"Run & Jump" is a sweet and sincere drama that suffers from a classic case of burying the lead.
It's the story of an American psychiatrist named Ted (Will Forte) who travels to Ireland to examine the reintegration into family life of Conor (Edward MacLiam), a 38-year-old husband and father whose personality has been transformed by a severe stroke to the point where he barely functions as an adult.
The movie holds the most interest when director Steph Green and screenwriter Ailbhe Keogan examine the observation and treatment process, both in terms of Ted's interactions with Conor and in the ways Conor's wife Vanetia (Maxine Peake) and their children are affected by the reality that he might never be the same again.
The picture is sidetracked when the focus shifts toward Ted's growing feelings for Vanetia.
It's not Forte's fault; the actor again shows off considerable dramatic chops, capturing an understated smartness and sadness that's a few shades away from his career- transforming "Nebraska" performance. Peake is in fine form, too, balancing Vanetia's need to be strong for the family with an undercurrent of concern about the future.
Ted just seems so superfluous. His story distracts from the movie's dramatic center; we never learn much about the character and his presence seriously lowers the dramatic stakes by offering a security blanket for Conor's family.
It's indicative of the larger issue here: with its sprinkling of indie clichés and abundance of white light to signify healing, the movie is too pleasant, too sweet and too tidily assembled given the central trauma.
Directed by Steph Green
Starring Maxine Peake,
Will Forte, Edward MacLiam
Playing at IFC Center and on VOD