Ted (Will Forte) is an American doctor who is living with Irish family The Caseys, after 38 year old Conor Casey (Edward MacLiam) suffers a stroke and awoke a different man. Whereas he once a loving husband and father, now he wanders in and out of awareness of his family, and when he is coherent, he seems to be prone to sudden violent outbursts. This leave's Vanetia (Maxine Peake) to keep the household running, a beacon of hope, even with a potentially ticking timebomb lying next to her each night. Of course, Ted tries to remain distant to the proceedings within the Casey household, but finds it difficult to keep impassive.
The issue of mental health is dealt with nothing but sensitivity and reality here, but director and co-writer Steph Green manages not to bog the film down entirely in depression and sadness. There is a marvellous lightness of tone throughout, with Vanetia determined not to let her husband's affliction not disrupt her, their children's and most importantly HIS happiness.
While Will Forte is known for his roles in 30 Rock and SNL, and showed a more serious but still vaguely comedic side in Nebraska, in Run & Jump he is remarkably restrained. Whether stone-faced behind a video-camera as Conor goes into another berserker rage, or completely awkward with Vanetia's forwardness, he is fantastic in the role of a man who is trying to help people, but seems totally uncomfortable around them.
You'd expect MacLiam's character and performance to be the show-off part, and while he is given some powerful moment throughout, the real revelation is Maxine Peake. Such a powerhouse of positivity, she's a constant source of light and love that seems to be almost shining right off the screen, with the fears of her family's future constantly bubbling under the surface, and Peake plays her perfectly.
Not a game-changing film by any means, but it is hilarious and heart-breaking, and by not just making “an Irish movie”, instead telling an Irish-set and universally relatable story, Run & Jump ends up being one of the best Irish movies of the decade.