American doctor Ted (Forte) wishes to study the recovery of stroke victim Conor (MacLiam), but in order to do so he must move into the family home and in the process become part of the struggle to return to normal life. Conor’s wife Vanetia (Peake) is pretty much on her own in attempting to hold things together and with Conor’s medical situation taking such a massive toll she is struggling to maintain the positivity required. Ted’s inclusion in everyday life doesn’t help, but as he becomes a more important factor in the recovery process he is becoming more of a support to Vanetia than observer of Conor’s progress. Dangerous territory.
Anyone who has witnessed the devastating effects of brain injury or stroke will be all too familiar with the frustration and destruction that it can bring to a family’s way of life. The focus here is on the matriarch and Peake is superb as the under pressure Vanetia who in this situation is left carrying the can. She is broken by the loss of her husband, but she really doesn’t have time for mourning as she has two young children struggling with the situation as much as she is. The arrival of the tweed wearing American doctor, perfectly delivered by Forte, is and intrusion, a diversion and escape all at the same time. It is nice to see him delivering another decent non-comic performance following on from his work in Nebraska. The chemistry between the two is right on the money, but most of the credit must go to Peake who is excellent throughout. One particular scene in which she realises just how alone she is with Conor absent is heart rendering and Peake really knocks it out of the park.
Although the spotlight is undoubtedly focused on Vanetia’s struggle it is the familial episodes that dictate this struggle and MacLiam is very good in delivering Conor’s difficult recovery. Adding to the mix are a mother and father in law that are hell bent on sticking their noses in and a son that is confused about a great many things not just his father’s absence. It may try to develop one too many extra threads, but that said they don’t divert attention to the point of losing focus on Vanetia and there are some perfectly timed funny moments in the mix to lighten what had the potential to be heavy material if not dealt with appropriately.
Featuring some very enjoyable performances and a very real insight into the impact of dealing with cognitive impairment, Run & Jump is well worth a trip to the cinema.