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Director: Kieron J Walsh
Cert: 15A
Genre: Drama
Starring: Martin McCann, Nichola Burley, Richard Dormer, Charlene McKenna, Ciaran McMenanmin, Valene Kane
Running Time: 1 hr 18 mins

It’s grim up north. Again.

Arriving hot on the heels of the lively, uplifting Good Vibrations , new Ulster drama Jump – with its scenes of knee-capping and thuggery – can feel like a step backwards for Northern Ireland on screen.

Director Kieron J Walsh's first feature since When Brendan Met Trudy (2000) begins with its heroine contemplating a jump from Derry's Peace Bridge and ends with, well, the same suicidal dilemma.

“I’ve never understood the fuss about New Year’s Eve countdown,” notes Nichola Burley’s despondent voiceover. “We manage to get to nothing again.”

In common with Ir on Man 3, Jump is an unseasonal seasonal movie. Unlike Iron Man 3 , however, the film offers an anatomy of melancholy. Burley's Greta is properly depressed when she encounters bloodied Pearse (Martin McCann, always a pleasure to watch), an earnest young chap attempting to find his missing brother.

Postcard-perfect images of the Peace Bridge and scenes of drunken New Year’s revelry are deftly counterpointed by Greta’s inner- monologue: “There are pills if you feel too low and pills if you feel too high, but absolutely nothing for when you feel nothing.”

Much of the girl’s distress can be attributed to her ambivalent feelings toward her father (Lalor Roddy), a local gangster. Many of Pearse’s woes can be attributed to the same source. Together, they hatch a plan. But will they be able to stay ahead of Da’s hired goons (Ciarán McMenamin, Packy Lee) or reluctant henchman (the excellent Richard Dormer)?

Working from Lisa McGee's stage play, Walsh's chronologically crafty thriller keeps us guessing as it cuts between a heist, its mournful protagonist and two giddy hens (lively Charlene McKenna and Valene Kane) out on the tiles. David Rom's cinematography is crisp and the edits by Eimear Reynolds and Jake Roberts are perfectly timed. The dialogue is deliciously dark and characteristically Northern ("No wonder you want to top yourself listening to this shite"). In the same spirit, a track by The Cheeky Girls has dire consequences.

Unhappily, for all these qualities, Ju mp can't escape its theatrical origins or budgetary constraints. The staging is simply too shallow and the run time too short for it to feel like more than a classy TV special. A heavy reliance on voice- over and contrivance doesn't help.

No matter: the film is still worth a gander for its invariably dazzling performances: even when Ms Burley’s accent falters, her charisma never does.