run-and-jumpTwo immensely talented actors who you simply don’t see enough of on the big screen, are Maxine Peake and Will Forte. So thankfully for us, filmmaker Steph Green has made an attempt in putting that right once and for all, casting the two performers as the lead roles in her debut production Run & Jump. Well, we’re sold.

Forte plays Ted, an American doctor who is staying with the Vanetia (Peake) and her family in Ireland, to study and examine her husband Conor (Edward MacLiam), who has developed a significant change in personality following a recent stroke. While the infectiously optimistic mother of two desperately attempts to get on with her life and to balance the acts of parenthood and caring for her husband, the doctor provides something of a distraction, though as the pair find solace in one another’s company, they have to be careful not to overstep the mark.

Given the nature of the narrative, Green must be commended for treading on such fragile territory so lightly, allowing for the audience to invest in a tale that, if handled clumsily, could be taken the wrong way. The romance at the core of this film, between Ted and Vanetia, is not one we should technically be rooting for, Conor has suffered a stroke and is completely unaware and so vulnerable, and you can’t bear to see him taken advantage of. Yet given the delicate approach taken by the director, we’re able to sympathise with the leads and appreciate their motives, as the audience are then conflicted as to what they want to happen, similarly to the characters in that respect. Much of our acceptance of the situation derives from the reluctancy from the characters at hand. They seem to be against the idea, but it’s almost too overpowering, and their desire and need for affection so palpable, that while they know what they’re doing isn’t right, they simply can’t help but entertain the idea.

Another factor in allowing this narrative to flourish, is the distinct credentials of our leading duo, who elevate this title above the norm. Two fine actors who play these nuanced roles with such conviction and subtlety – which is particularly impressive as far as Forte is concerned, in what is effectively his first dramatic role. He’s brilliant, and his character has such a fascinating arc, as he slowly grows to become more confident in these foreign surroundings, all the while battling the overwhelming sense of being a burden to this struggling family.

However, in spite of the varying positive elements, and the director’s unique ability in handling some intriguing themes so sensitively and in such an accomplished fashion, Run & Jump does struggle to feel particularly impactful, and while carrying a sweet, amiable tone and a charm of sorts, it doesn’t pull up any trees and is somewhat forgettable on the whole. Still, as just Green’s debut feature film she can forgiven, while this bears much promise as to what can achieved from this talented filmmaker in the future.