Director: Kieron J Walsh
Starring: Nichola Burley, Charlene McKenna, Martin McCann
Running time: 82 mins
Release date: April 26
There is little left to chance in Kieron J Walsh’s JUMP, an intersecting-storylines drama based on the stage play of the same name by Lisa McGee.
It’s New Year’s Eve in Derry and twenty-something Greta (Nichola Burley) has decided to pass up an invitation to a fancy dress party, instead opting to try and take her own life by jumping off a bridge. She is interrupted by Pearse Kelly (Martin McCann), who has just received a beating from a couple of heavies because he has been asking too many questions about the recent disappearance of his younger brother. Pearse suspects that local nightclub owner Frank Feeney (Lalor Roddy)—who it transpires is Greata’s father—had something to do with his brother going missing. But Frank has more pressing matters on his mind after discovering that a significant amount of cash has been stolen from his personal safe.
Greta, Pearse and Frank all have hard choices to make. The consequences of their decisions prove profound, as their lives begin to intersect in ways none of them would ever have imagined. Coincidence plays a major part in drawing them closer together, and even Greta’s friends Marie (Charlene McKenna) and Dara (Valene Kane) are unable to escape its pull as the stakes become higher and the clock ticks down towards midnight.
JUMP represents a refreshing break from the norm in that it is a Northern Ireland-produced film free of references to the Troubles or to religious affiliation. Walsh eschews a linear approach to the narrative, and the chronology of events is distorted, which works well in terms of engaging the audience. Despite the lack of any real character insight in the script, Burley’s expressiveness adds credence to her portrayal of troubled young woman Greta and she is ably supported by McCann and a supporting cast who deliver some much-needed moments of light humour.
But the frequent use of close-ups and the forceful ways in which sound is employed betray an underlying deliberateness. This sense of contrivance is reinforced by the fact that the story takes place on New Year’s Eve—a period when normal order is traditionally suspended, with revellers donning masks as the city’s inhabitants stand on the threshold of a new year. Pearse can’t move on while his brother is still missing, Frank won’t rest until he gets his money back, and Greta positions herself on a bridge between life and death without giving a thought to the past or the future. Frank’s nightclub, it just so happens, is called ‘Limbo’.
None of this is coincidental—in fact the story-line is strewn with so many coincidences that an unwelcome sense of inevitability about unfolding events creeps in, negating the possibility of feeling genuine surprise at the fate that befalls its characters.
Which is not to say that there is nothing to admire about JUMP, because this highly-stylised film does have a lot of heart. It’s just a little bit too self-conscious for comfort—and a tad more conventional than it considers itself to be.