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Ratcatcher (#110 of 3)

Tribeca Film Festival 2013 Steph Green’s Run & Jump

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Tribeca Film Festival 2013: Run & Jump
Tribeca Film Festival 2013: Run & Jump

Born in the U.S., but now dividing her time between Los Angeles and Dublin, director Steph Green was nominated for an Oscar in 2009 for her short film New Boy, a sensitive portrait of a young African lad struggling to settle into a new school in Ireland. The theme of coming to terms with a dramatic life change is once again central in her confident, boldly stylized feature debut Run & Jump.

Set in a picturesque Irish town, the film begins with the return to the family stead of Conor (Edward MacLiam), a 38-year-old carpenter and father of two who’s suffered a damaging stroke, leaving him severely mentally restricted. In response, his spirited wife, Vanetia (Maxine Peake), has brought an American neurophysiologist, Ted Fielding (Will Forte), into the household to observe Conor’s condition and interaction with the family for two months. Welcomed with curious fascination by Vanetia and the children, but greeted with some suspicion by Conor’s extended family, Ted soon finds himself becoming inextricably woven into the family in ways he hadn’t imagined. The unusual, shifting dynamic of the triangulated central relationship makes the film constantly engaging on a narrative level, with Green using the inherent awkwardness of the situation to locate nuanced, character-based humor rather than externally imposing it on the drama.

Cannes Film Festival 2011 We Need to Talk About Kevin, Trabalhar Cansa, & Polisse

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Cannes Film Festival 2011: We Need to Talk About Kevin, Trabalhar Cansa, & Polisse
Cannes Film Festival 2011: We Need to Talk About Kevin, Trabalhar Cansa, & Polisse

Lynne Ramsay returns to the world of filmmaking after a nine-year hiatus, and we’re all the better for it. We Need to Talk About Kevin, Ramsay’s hypnotic cinematic adaptation of the novel by Lionel Shriver, manages to combine her medley of heightened aesthetics with a keenly dark sense of humor and place. Tilda Swinton plays Eva, a wealthy author whose son, Kevin (Ezra Miller), has gone on a devastating Columbine-style rampage. Ramsay deconstructs the narrative backbone with flashbacks, flashforwards, and a multitude of pop-music cues that further distances Eva from her surrounding community. In fact, nearly every sequence unfolds under the suffocating guise of overlapping sound bridges that reference key unseen events in the film. We hear the running footsteps, the screams, and loud bursts, but also the quiet sounds of passing cars, playful asides between family members, and drapes blowing in the wind. Each moment—horrific or sublime—becomes a part of Ramsay’s tectonic universe.

We Need to Talk About Kevin begins in a fractured world of stagnation, where Eva is already immersed in the post-massacre suffering process, looking for a job by day and drinking heavily alone in her small house by night. Ramsay paces the staggering first act around a series of confrontations between Eva and certain members of her community, and each typifies the same violent immediacy we’ll later see in Kevin himself. Ramsay lingers on Swinton’s face, using the camera as a magnifying glass to chart the contours of skin caked in red paint and across which the tears from her shell-shocked eyes roll. There’s a mesmerizing ambiguity to these early moments that relays a masterful sense of dread, mostly because Kevin is represented only momentarily through a series of close-ups. Not knowing the why, or even the magnitude of his actions, makes the horror all the more palpable and personal.