Posted by Alia Haddad on April 26, 2013 at 2:37 pm
Getting confused by the Tribeca Press and Industry Screenings Guide led me directly into the theater that Steph Green’s Run & Jump was playing in. Well, confused as I was for the beginning few moments, what a delightful surprise my mistake ended up being!
Steph Green’s Run & Jump tells the tale of a slightly quirky Irish family as they deal with the loss of their former father and husband after he suffers a devastating stroke. While Conor survives the stroke, he is left with severe emotional and mental disabilities. While Run & Jump shows how the whole family must cope, it particularly focuses on Vanetia, the optimistic and charming matriarch, who allows the American research doctor Ted Fielding into their home to record and document Conor’s healing process once he arrives home. As the film progresses, free-spirited and caring Vanetia and rigid and, at first, emotionless Ted find a kinship with each other, while the whole family adapts to their new houseguest.
That Run & Jump is Steph Green’s first feature film is not at all evident throughout the film. In fact, quite the opposite. Green handles the movie, which could have easily turned into a trite romance or, perhaps even worse, an overly dramatic tale of woe, with skill and aplomb. Instead, Green hits all the marks a celebrated director is expected to hit.
The best part about her direction, I believe, was that as the plot developed in Run & Jump, so did the characters. When the film begins, we are presented with characters that can be kindly summed up in one or two adjectives, but by the time the credits hit the screen, each character has such depth. This especially holds true for Vanetia and Ted. Also a testament to the acting skills of Maxine Peake and Will Forte (yes, that Will Forte) respectively, their specific characters are so rich with emotion and complexity.
Now that we’re on the subject, the acting. Oh the acting. One of the biggest surprises was how Will Forte handled the challenge of serious (dun dun) acting, when he is best known for playing Jenna’s cross-dressing Jenna-impersonator boyfriend on 30 Rock. When news broke that Forte would take a serious turn to star in Alexander Payne’s newest flick Nebraska, the movie world gasped! Could he really do it? Well, with this much smaller film, Forte surely did. And he did it well.
What does this mean for Forte and Green in the future? Well, Forte has successfully proven that he can do dramatic acting as well as he can laughably creepy, and hopefully Green will go on to do other features as good as this in the future. For the time being, she can be content that she debuted with a film as strong as Run & Jump.