Jack Goes Boating

Art & Culture

Philip Seymour Hoffman directed and stars in this simple but not simple-minded film about a man in search of love, who decides to learn swimming as a way to increase his self esteem. It's a charming and enjoyable film.

Hoffman has played plenty of sad sacks in his time (as well as alpha males), but he seems to find different nuances to his characters. Jack is a limo driver, and his fellow driver and friend, Clyde, tries to help him get ahead in life. So Clyde and his wife Lucy introduce Jack to Connie, who works with Lucy. The couple figure that since no one else much wants either of them, they must be ideal for each other. Although putting two shy people together and expecting them to get it on is asking a lot.

The quality of the film is that while it follows the kind of path you might expect, it also manages to be unpredictable, well observed and acted. Most importantly, we care about the characters. There are exquisitely uncomfortable misunderstandings and social mishaps, and things go wrong in areas you might not expect, but the transformation of play to screen works as well as Jack's transformation from overweight no-hoper, to the scene in the picture above, which tells its own story. 



Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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