Jack Goes Boating
Director: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Ortiz, Amy Ryan, Daphne Rubin-Vega
Details: US/TBC TBC
Marking the feature directorial debut of one Phillip Seymour Hoffman, you could've predicted the tone, characters and plot of Jack Goes Boating before watching a frame of it. Hoffman is a wonderful actor, and can elevate a scene with simply with his presence; but on the evidence of his first film, he's probably better off not quitting the day job.
Hoffman plays titular awkward, but sweet limo driver Jack. An introvert, he's set up on a blind date by John Ortiz's work friend, Clyde. The date with Connie (the never less that watchable Amy Ryan) doesn't go according to plan, when Amy is attacked even before meeting our shy hero. But, alas, these two are a perfect match and Clyde and his wife persist with their meeting. But they have their own troubles, and Jack soon begins to look like the normal one despite continually evoking the sympathy of his friends.
Going into this (very indie) film, I hadn't heard the title and was unaware that it was first a stage production. Soon into it however, its source material is all too evident. Not a bad thing by any means, it's just with the exception of a couple of musical interludes, Hoffman just never attempts to make his film cinematic. Judging by the amount of slow zooms and close-ups of Jack's face as he ponders, he's more concerned with his own performance.
In fairness to Hoffman he gets good work out of his core cast. Ortiz is particular is impressive as the caring, but damaged middle-aged man, trying to save his marriage; while Ryan injects Connie with a likeability that really wasn't on the page. The elongated final scene is an easy stand-out as the revelations we learn before come to a head. But it doesn't make a lot of sense, and the characters are almost too quirky to be real despite some wonderfully organic work from Ryan and Ortiz.
A middle of the road, often indulgent indie drama that will surprise few.