One of the best, and most surprising, performances from last year was Will Forte’s dramatic turn in Alexander Payne’s moving black-and-white road film "Nebraska." In that film, he was no longer wearing his ridiculous "MacGruber" mullet, and his usual comedic presence was substituted for a more grounded, straight-man performance that carried the film alongside Bruce Dern’s Oscar-nominated performance.
It’d be wrong, however, to pinpoint his performance in "Nebraska" as his first dramatic turn. One month before, Forte moved to the Irish rural countryside for his actual first, and equally great, dramatic turn in "Run & Jump," Steph Green’s feature directorial debut as well as last night's Milwaukee Film monthly members screening at the Oriental Theatre.
The film, which premiered last spring at the Tribeca Film Festival before making the rounds in limited release, banks on heartfelt melodrama as it examines an Irish family that experiences loss, fragility and mixed emotions in the wake of near fatal trauma. Unfortunately, the film stumbles and instead fixates on predictive, restrained territory.
In the opening scene, Venetia Casey (portrayed by the endearingly Maxine Peake) picks up her husband Conor (an impressive Edward MacLiam) from a rural hospital, fully intent on remaining optimistic as they make their way through the countryside in hopes to recoup once they return to their home. She notices his quiet, uncomfortably transformed demeanor as he sits in the passenger seat. One thing is certain: Conor is no longer the same man that she married after a stroke left him in a coma for a month and in the hospital for four more.
Once they’re home, their two children – a young girl and a teenage boy – try to readjust to their "new dad" while Dr. Ted Fielding (Forte, sporting an impeccable beard), an American neuropsychologist, documents Conor’s behavior and random outbursts with a video camera in hand for a case study he’s writing. At first, Ted purposeful…Read more...