The return home of a stroke victim almost develops into a ménage à trois.
How It’s New York: This movie had its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April before opening the 2013 Irish Film New York festival at NYU’s Cantor Film Center in early October. One of its star’s hails from New York’s own Saturday Night Live: Will Forte playing an American in Ireland.
How It’s Irish: “Run & Jump” was filmed in Ireland by director Steph Green, like Forte’s character, an American living in Ireland. It tells the tale of an Irish family adjusting to the father’s recent stroke.
A psychologist plans to make clinical observations on a stroke victim’s rehabilitation when he comes home from hospital but Dr. Fielding gets more than he bargained for after insinuating himself into the home life of the Casey family. He ends up like a particle in the laundry flung out on “high spin”.
Dr. Fielding– Ted, as he soon becomes known–learns the hard way that you can’t just be an observer in life. “Run & Jump” is an imperative that the central characters literally act on in the end.
It’s fitting for this film that its resolution is nonverbal. Most Irish films run on dialogue. This one not so. The building rapport between the live-in doctor and the wife (Maxine Peake as Vanetia) is conveyed by such as a glance over the extended-family dinner table. Meanwhile, the speech is plain, if apt. As when the mother of the impaired husband (as Conor) declines Vanetia’s invitation to stay with an accusatory,
“Your house seems crowded these days.”
You’d have to feel sorry for all concerned: the husband now obsessed with animals because relating to humans has become too hard, the frustrated and still young wife trying to love what remains of him, the other man, and the children caught in between. The doctor is paying to stay as part of his research, money that’s needed in a household headed by a woodworker who now obsessively makes spheres he can’t sell.
Despite the tragedy in Ailbhe Keogan’s tale of a situation she knows personally, there’s humor in this fictionalized account: for example, when the delightful six- or seven-year old daughter barges into the bathroom and casually interrogates a naked (Dr.) Ted about his personal life. Clearly, he prefers to ask the questions.
Peake’s character occasionally grated by being forced upon the audience as “irrepresible.” I’ve yet to hear of a Mexican-themed dinner, complete with Sombreros, just because, in Ireland, but that and the free-wheeling in the rain are mostly about writing/direction.
Overall, this was engaging treatment of a rarely touched topic. And, it’s a very impressive feature-film debut for Green, one of whose shorts (“New Boy,” adapted from a Roddy Doyle short story) was nominated for an Oscar.