Short films are largely something as film fans that we kind of just take for granted. Paying very little attention to them even during Oscar time, it seems like most people these days, myself including, just do not give these shorts the attention they deserve. What most do not realize is that the short film directors of today are the big directors of tomorrow. Some of Hollywood’s best like Christopher Nolan, Tim Burton, and even the legend Martin Scorcese started their careers in the root of short films. While each of their works have plenty of imperfections, it’s impressive how as a viewer, their directorial styles and mannerisms are very much apparent.
One of the few shorts that really captured my attention is titled New Boy. Nominated for Best Live Action Short in the 2007 Oscars, it’s a simple nine minute short following a boy in his first day in a new school. Director Steph Green’s short showed a great deal of naturalism and heart, which is very much apparent in her messy, but charming directorial debut Run and Jump.
Run and Jump follows Casey, whose life is turned upside down when her husband Conor suffers a serious stroke, leaving her to run the house.
It’s been great to see how Will Forte has grown as an actor. He started just as a funny man, but with his performances in Nebraska and now Run and Jump, he is starting to develop into a really good actor. Forte here creates a great character from a very stereotypical kind of guy. Essentially he is supposed to be this kind of awkward character, but Forte is able to bring such depth and life to the role. Forte has a knack for being quirky, while being personable at the same time.
Forte is not the lead, though, that distinction goes to relatively unknown Maxine Peake. Peake has been involved in a lot of television, and has an easy-going British charm. Here, Peake gets a very meaty role, playing a wife to this stroke victim, and now being put in the caretaker position. It’s easy to feel her frenzy being put in this crazy situation, but also it’s apparent how much she is trying to just make it all work. That kind of character has been done before, but Peake’s performance gives the character type a new life.
Much as in her New Boy short, Green brings many of the same qualities here in her directorial debut. Like that short, this debut is very much a well-assured one by Green. As far as the technical aspects of the film go, they are above the normal indie drama like this. Along with cinematographer Kevin Richey, the pair shoot these scenes with confidence, displaying great shots of the Irish countryside. Green also really nails down the aspects of this Irish culture, revealing it with just with a few subtle touches throughout the film.
Like in New Boy, Green has a knack for capturing raw, human emotion. The highlight moments of Run and Jump are some of the simpler, smaller moments in the film. There are some surprising scenes which are simple in concept, but captured in a very elegant way. There were quite a few times I teared up, and I cannot imagine how this movie would affect someone who has faced a similar situation, because this really is something people face every day.
Editing is an issue here for sure, with at times widely uneven pacing. The film runs around 90 minutes, but honestly could have been a bit shorter. There are stretches of just dead air, with a few scenes adding little value to the film and its messages. While the first hour moves at a pretty consistent pace, the final thirty minutes almost feels like the movie is stretching just to reach that 90 minute mark.
Also quite uneven is the tone. Throughout most of the film, Run and Jump has a very light-hearted tone, almost sort of whimsical at points. Although, there are some points in which the film had some very dark moments, such as the story arc with the character of Lenny, her son. These moments in general feel just very out of place, especially with the movie for the most part being very lighthearted.
As far as the script goes, it’s a mess here. A collaboration between scribe Ailbhe Keogan and Steph Green, the two stumble on quite a few interesting concepts, like the possibility of loving a person despite said person completely changing, but they are largely handled in a messy way. It’s just too much going on, with almost every character having several different ideas behind them that just never get fleshed out.
In general, the script and film itself just needed a lot more focus. Steph Green is obviously a very talented director, but there is just too much going on for everything to really come together. Sure, most of these ideas and concepts that are being developed are actually quite interesting, but since they never get fleshed out, the affect of them is tarnished. From not choosing whether to be more serious or whimsical, to having too many themes to focus on, Run and Jump just does not come together as well as it could.
Even with the film never fully coming together, Run and Jump has too many great moments to ignore. From the great performances to its solid emotional core, there are enough positives to give this a watch.
Take a Drink: for each animal
Take a Drink: during each awkward moment
Take a Drink: each time Will Forte is on his laptop
Do a Shot: everytime you hear a familiar tune