Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Jack Goes Boating

Jack Goes Boating, a hit at this years Sundance Film Festival, is the directorial debut of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who also stars.  It's at least on the surface a typical sort of Sundance hit.  It centers around the burgeoning romance between Jack and Connie (Amy Ryan), and offers an idiosyncratic, highly eccentric tragic-comic surroundings to their prelude into romance.  This small, fairly slight film was based upon a play, yet due to Hoffman's gifts behind the camera it feels opened up I can only assume far beyond what's expected into a cinematic charmer.  Mr. Hoffman, as a director, appears to have a reassuring eye in terms of tone and films the movie quite beautifully considering it's really a small chamber piece where the action appears in one location.  To his credit, it never appears stagey or claustrophobic, but wide and lovely.

At the beginning we meet Jack (Hoffman), a limo driver who agrees to be set up on a blind date with Connie (Ryan.)  This is all arranged by friends Clyde (John Ortiz) and his wife Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega), a co-worker of Connie's.  In a refreshing antithesis to the usual romantic comedy meet-cute scenario, they meet over dinner where Connie in great detail describes her past family tragedy, pointing out her social ineptitude.  And this being Hoffman in subdued form, rather than largely than life form, he himself is suffering from the same ailment.  From the get go they're a perfect match.  And so Jack in turn yearns to become a better man for Connie by learning how to swim (she's a fan of boating) and by cooking (no one's ever cooked for her before), and in so instructs the helps of his friends.

Really what had to be a four person play is opened up quite well, and Hoffman as director guides the three other principles to well-crafted performances.  Ortiz and Rubin-Vega (the original Mimi in Rent) are quite good a projecting a long married couple who mean well, only ultimately to fall.  The centerpiece scene of the piece revolves a dinner party Jack throws for Connie, and while many might be weary of the shift in tone the film takes during the rather long sequence, it's a nice journey to take with the actors, as each gets in a small way there own sort of Tennessee Williams moment to shine.

Jack Goes Boating is small, but kind of special too.  It plays and flows like one would expect a Phillip Seymour Hoffman indie too, but there's humanity and humor aplenty.  And as slight and indie-centric as it is, there was also a tad bit of magic incensed as well.  B

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...