“Run and Jump”: A Patient (and Family) Studied By Neuropsychologist

Looking for something recently released on DVD? One option is Run and Jump.

Because Irishman Conor (Edward MacLiam), just 38, has had a stroke he can no longer function in his family and work roles—nor can he even speak. When he’s discharged from the hospital, a neuropyschologist, Dr. Ted Fielding (Will Forte), arrives from America to stay with Conor, his wife Vanetia (Maxine Peake), and their two kids for a couple months in order to do some research on the stroke’s effects.

This premise of Run and Jump, notes Christy Lemire, rogerebert.com, “sounds painfully glum and ultimately mawkish. But—like the active verbs that constitute its title—’Run & Jump’ is surprisingly alive, full of jolts and unexpected bursts of humor and earned emotion.”

Joel ArnoldNPR: “Run & Jump is co-written by Ailbhe Keogan, whose father sustained a head injury that changed her family dynamic, and the details of the complications in welcoming a changed father home — the ways each family member copes—feel carefully observed.”

According to Lemire (and many others), it’s Peake, the female lead, who “steals the show. There’s a clarity and purity to her features that makes her impossible to stop watching, and a smart and vivacious presence that makes her irresistible.”

When she does lose a grip on her sunny disposition, for instance, she tries “laughter yoga”—and whatever works to keep her spirits up.

Other performances are also given high marks. More about the plot via characterization:

Stephen Holden, New York Times: “Mr. MacLiam’s poignant performance reflects Conor’s ever-shifting mixture of confusion, panic, anger and longing to resume a former identity that is now out of reach. The movie makes it clear in a tender, delicately handled love scene, in which Conor and Vanetia reconnect sexually, that she still loves her husband.”

Joel Arnold, NPR: “Fielding follows each family argument and cognitive challenge with a camera — he’s there to document, not intervene. Forte plays the man’s professional distance as a practiced habit of restraint, but he’s so comfortable in his detachment that he can’t see how his lack of outward sympathy, the absence of connection to the family he dines with nightly, is aggravating the situation.”

Having Dr. (Ted) Fielding in their small quarters grates on Vanetia at first. “But then,” adds Christy Lemire, “Vanetia and Ted share that tried-and-true moment of movie bonding, that breaker of walls and destroyer of defenses. They smoke pot together in the middle of the night. Sure, it’s a bit of a cliché, but it works, and it allows their true selves to connect. In no time, Ted is opening up. He begins functioning as a surrogate dad to the kids, and his teasing, flirtatious chemistry with the charming Vanetia is undeniable.”

Another subplot worth mentioning is that the “older child, Lenny (Brendan Morris), is a depressed, taciturn teenager with looming sexual identity issues, who is bullied at school,” states Stephen Holden, New York Times.

Watch the Run and Jump trailer:

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