Mike Leigh’s A Running Jump Review

Jumping for Joy!

One of four shorts made by British film-makers showcasing the UK’s filmmaking talent. A Running Jump, is Mike Leigh’s 35- minute short film commissioned as part of the London 2012 Olympic Festival.

Written by Mike Leigh the cast filmed in East London over 3 weeks in the summer of 2010. A Running Jump follows the trials and tribulations of the Conroy family, car dealer Perry (Eddie Marsan), Perry’s wife Debbie (Samantha Spiro), Perry’s taxi-driver dad (Sam Kelly), and twins girls Jody &Hayley (Danielle & Nichole Bird)

The plot also involves Gary (Lee Ingleby), who is attempting to buy a second-hand car.  What should be simple task turns into a saga, also involved in the mess is garage owner Derek (Robert Putt) and the twin girls cause even further confusion. There is a wonderful scene involving the twins where Gary (Lee Ingleby) the potential car-buyer, sees Jody arriving at the family home seconds after seeing Hayley leave.

Eddie Marsan, Samantha Spiro and Sam Kelly are perfect choices and add the right blend of comedy and instinctive acting. Lee Ingleby as usual, plays his part perfectly, a supreme talent in the UK acting cannon. He is always enthralling to watch and he is earthy enough to be believable in anything he does. Newcomers Danielle & Nichole Bird are fresh out of drama school and show lots of promise; we are likely to see them again soon.

The film looks to capture a colourful portrait of the chaotic sport of everyday life. Of course, in the background there are many nods to physical activity, at the beginning of the film there is a gym full of middle-aged ladies doing yoga, and then there are a group of teenagers practising karate in a park. Also a flock of cyclists whizz past in the shot. So there is a perfect mixture of subject matter.

A Running Jump is sport infused but does not concentrate solely on physical sport, athletes or Olympians. The first of Mike Leigh’s films shot entirely on digital film and the film’s punchline involves a helicopter aerial shot. Mike Leigh certainly has a legendary and unique approach to filmmaking; improvisation is a formula that has served him well in his career. His narratives are organic and are very much ‘Kitchen Sink’ and that is part of his appeal.

A Running Jump is fast paced, funny, breezy and loads of fun; and will be screened in around 50 cinemas across the U.K. and air on the BBC and Channel 4 during the London 2012 Olympic Festival.