Will Forte and Maxine Peake in Run and Jump.

Will Forte follows up his strong dramatic turn in Nebraska with an even better performance in a better movie, Run and Jump.

Forte plays Ted, an American doctor in Ireland studying Conor (Edward MacLiam), a relatively young stroke patient returning to his family after being in a coma. The stroke has rendered Conor childlike; he has most of his motor skills, but little memory of the man he was before. Ted lives with him and his family, videotaping Conor in his interactions with his spirited wife, Vanetia, played winningly by Maxine Peake.

Conor’s state has left him relatively useless as a father figure, husband and lover. His two kids are confused, while Vanetia does her best to remain upbeat and good-natured. Slowly, Ted begins to step in as a friend to Vanetia, and a father figure to the children.

Much credit goes to director and co-writer Steph Green for making this tough plot work. Ted remains a highly sympathetic character rather than some selfish jerk who is moving in on an emotionally incapacitated stroke victim’s wife and family. The movie has touches of wonderful humor and weirdness to go with its justifiable sadness.

Peake’s performance is a stunner, as she traverses easily from humor to tragedy. She’s done a lot of TV work in her career, and she deserves big movie roles in her future.

Forte is an actor who accomplishes much with his expressions. He has nice control over that face of his, and many of his best moments consist of him just standing and staring, with everything being conveyed in the eyes. He’s proving to be one of the more reliable SNL alumni.

The film is available via various online sources, including iTunes and Amazon.com.

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