How entertaining? ★★★★☆
Thought provoking? ★☆☆☆☆
28 February 2012
This article is a review of JACK GOES BOATING.
“Don’t hurt me; overcome me,” Connie (Amy Ryan) to Jack (Philip Seymour Hoffman)
Hoffman is one of the best actors working today. Whenever he’s in front of the camera his projects are worth seeking out. It was with great anticipation I awaited JACK GOES BOATING – his film debut behind the camera. I’d seen JESUS HOPPED THE ‘A’ TRAIN, the play he directed, also starring John Ortiz, an important part of this film. Some directorial debuts by actors are pretty flat (e.g. Ralph Fiennes’ CORIOLANUS), others have verve (e.g. George Clooney’s CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND). Apart from a few ugly shots when two characters are talking to each other for a prolonged period of time, the majority of the runtime, I’m pleased to report, has a lyricism and imagination that makes proceedings a pleasure to watch. There are several interludes to the music of Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes, etc., which sometimes feel like padding or a way of demonstrating dynamism, and do not propel the narrative forward. Though, the story of two couples, one having severe problems and the other tentatively reaching out to one another, lends itself to these asides. We are just dropped in on them and their lives. Jack and Ortiz’s Clyde are limo drivers and best buds attempting to better themselves. While pursuing career success, it is their love lives which leave a hole. Clyde says he has, but can’t get over is other half’s infidelity. Jack has never really connected with anyone for a long period of time. Friendships and relationships are the focus of a disjointed movie – moving from scene to scene awkwardly – but the talent involved are so engaging it doesn’t really matter.