Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Jack Goes Boating

Time for another independent comedy drama about two very lonely and socially awkward people finding a connection. Like Cyrus, Jack Goes Boating is very raw and very real and does not, in my opinion, qualify as a comedy. But Jack Goes Boating is not as quirky as Cyrus, it takes place in New York City, which I, unsurprisingly, fell in love with on my first visit last October, and the story worked for me in a way that Cyrus did not, so I enjoyed this film more than Cyrus.

Jack Goes Boating is directed by, and stars, Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the best actors out there. He is obviously also very competent behind the camera. While the role of Jack is not that different from others Hoffman has played (Happiness comes to mind), he is perfect for it. And Amy Ryan is superb as his girlfriend, Connie. The supporting cast is also outstanding (especially John Ortiz as Jack’s best friend, Clyde).

Jack Goes Boating is written by, and based on a play by, Bob Glaudini. It manages not to feel like a play though it explains why some scenes seem long. Maybe it also explains why this film is darker, more intelligent and more adult than Cyrus. The darkness comes from Clyde and his wife, who brought Jack and Connie together. At the same time that Jack and Connie are trying to develop their first serious relationship at the age of forty, Clyde’s marriage is falling apart. All four of the central characters in Jack Goes Boating are flawed and broken, and yet this film is an inspiring and hopeful story about friendship and overcoming all kinds of adversity and insecurities.

The film is also not without flaws, the biggest of which is how little we really get to know of these four characters before the present. And maybe it’s a little dry for an independent comedy drama (after all, I did’t find anything to laugh at). It probably only deserves ***, but I found Jack Goes Boating touching in just the right way and I am going to cross the line by a millimeter or so and give it ***+. My mug is up.

I’m going to try to keep up the daily reviews as long as I can, but I’m running out of films that are less than a year old, so I think I’ll review some of the more recent obscure DVDs that you might want to watch for.

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