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Originally published Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 3:05 PM

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‘Run & Jump’: Observing the world from 2 viewpoints

“Run & Jump” is a story about two kinds of observers: One watching the world from the sidelines and becoming an interloper in an impossible situation and the other hopelessly looking at the shards of an old life while normally ebullient spirit drains.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review 3 stars

‘Run & Jump,’ starring Maxine Peake, Will Forte, Edward MacLiam. Directed by Steph Green. written by Steph Green and Ailbhe Keogan. No rating, mature audiences. 102 minutes. Northwest Film Forum through Thursday.

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Good things do happen sometimes to Oscar-nominated directors of short-action films.

Case in point: Steph Green, whose 2007, 11-minutes-long “New Boy” was an Academy Award nominee. Green’s first feature, an insightful and often touching drama-comedy called “Run & Jump,” certainly suggests more good full-length movies to come.

Set in Ireland, “Run & Jump” is anchored by a vital performance from Maxine Peake (British television’s “Silk”). Peake plays Vanetia, a middle-class wife and mother whose woodworker husband, Conor (Edward MacLiam), has recently returned home from a lengthy hospitalization following a rare stroke.

We can tell from the occasional flashback that Conor is not the man he was. With some of his memory gone, an altered personality and a childlike impulsiveness making daily life a challenge, Conor’s unpredictable behavior at home proves overwhelming for Vanetia.

She is not, however, alone. An American psychologist, Ted (Will Forte in a buttoned-up performance), has arranged for much-needed money to go to Vanetia’s family. In exchange, Ted moves into their house and observes Conor as a case study.

It’s easy to predict what happens next, yet when it does happen — unhappy Vanetia and isolated Ted turn to one another as emotional intimates — there’s nothing tawdry about it. Green portrays the lonely characters’ draw to one another, under the special circumstances, as a sign of life.

But Green is also after bigger and more interesting fish. “Run & Jump” is really a story about two kinds of observers: Ted, watching the world from the sidelines and becoming an interloper in an impossible situation; and Vanetia, hopelessly looking at the shards of an old life while her normally ebullient spirit drains.

In Green’s smart and satisfying film, these two people — different kinds of strangers under the same roof — seek nothing less than authenticity.

Tom Keogh:

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