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On Friday June 8, the Belfast Film Festival hosted the second of its three Gala Screenings as the locally-produced film ‘Jump’ premiered to a packed crowd at the Dublin Road Movie House. Starring Nichola Burley (‘StreetDance 3D’), Martin McCann (“The Pacific”), Charlene McKenna (“Raw”), Richard Dormer (‘Good Vibrations’) and Lalor Roddy (“Game of Thrones”), ‘Jump’ follows several characters on New Year’s Eve in Derry, Northern Ireland, as they weave in and out of each others lives, all ultimately impacting the film’s main protagonist Greta, played beautifully by Burley. Director Kieron J. Walsh does a great job bringing effective moments of comedy to an otherwise dark, introspective tale, but ‘Jump”s main success is in painting Northern Ireland in a light rarely seen before on screen or at this festival.
Toonari Post previously reviewed ‘Good Vibrations’ and ‘Shadow Dancer’, both of which were entertaining in their own rights but which still situated their narratives in relation to the well-documented social and political conflict of Northern Ireland’s past. ‘Jump’, however, tells personal stories through themes which could translate to any city and any festival. Depression, grief, greed, hope: Walsh brings all of these to life thanks to a moving score and Steve Brookes’ well-balanced screenplay.
The film begins with Greta on the edge of a bridge, contemplating suicide until she is interrupted by Pearse, a young man unceasing in his efforts to find his younger brother who he suspects has been harmed by local gangster Frank Feeney, who just so happens to be Greta’s father. Reluctantly caught in the middle of all of these storylines is Greta’s friend Marie who, along with her other friend Dara, struggle to stay out of danger on a New Year’s Eve night which spirals more and more out of control.
Burley has few, if any, light moments to play as the despondent Greta, but she never falters in her portrayal of a woman figuratively and physically driven to the edge of despair. She sparkles in her scenes with McCann, who gets to play some wittier moments as Pearse, a young man with whom Greta forms an instant bond due to their mutual loathing of Frank Feeney, played by Roddy. Roddy is perfectly menacing in the role, while Ciarán McMenamin and Packy Lee provide much of the comic relief as Feeney’s lacklustre henchmen. Charlene McKenna and Valene Kane are terrific as Marie and Dara, the two women who can’t help but to get drawn into everyone else’s problems. Rounding out the cast is Dormer who, as the haunted criminal Johnny, is a world away from Terri Hooley of ‘Good Vibrations’ in this role. Dormer grounds every single scene he is in, especially when he is paired with the ridiculous duo of Ross and Jack (McMenamim and Lee, respectively), and at times rivals Burley as the emotional hook of the film.
More than likely, ‘Jump’ will not receive the global marketing support handed out to less-deserving ensemble offerings like last year’s woeful ‘New Year’s Eve’ or the recent ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’, which is a shame because Walsh and Brookes have created a densely-plotted and fantastically fast-paced film which would entertain almost any cinema-goer. Still, it had the backing of Limelight Media, Northern Ireland Screen, the Irish Film Board and BBC Northern Ireland, among other investors, so there may be hope that a wider audience outside of Northern Ireland will get the chance to enjoy ‘Jump’ and see a refreshing take on life in this creatively-burgeoning country.