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With: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan, John Ortiz, Richard Petrocelli, Thomas McCarthy, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Lola Glaudini, Rafael Osorio, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Mason Pettit, Trevor Long, Salvatore Inzerillo, Beth Cole, Shawna Bermender
Written by: Robert Glaudini, based on his play
Directed by: Philip Seymour Hoffman
MPAA Rating: R for language, drug use and some sexual content
Running Time: 89
Date: 01/23/2010

Jack Goes Boating (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Troubled Water

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The extraordinary actor Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote, The Savages, Doubt) makes his directorial debut here, based upon a 2007 play by Bob Glaudini, and Hoffman stars and recreates his stage role. Perhaps not surprisingly, the result is more character-based than it is flashy or visual. It would almost come across as a fairly routine Indie/Sundance-type movie, were it not for the superior acting and subtle characterization.

Jack (Philip Seymour Hoffman) works for his uncle as a limo driver, along with his best friend Clyde (John Ortiz). Jack is a sad, quiet, shy type, who listens to reggae music and is not very social. During a New York winter, Clyde's wife Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega) sets him up on a blind date with a co-worker, Connie (Amy Ryan), and they hit it off, setting a date for the next summer to go boating in the park. Jack can't swim, so he arranges for lessons with Clyde. He also learns to cook so that he can invite Connie to a dinner party. Unfortunately, everything goes wrong at the party, and Clyde and Lucy's marriage is disintegrating faster than Jack and Lucy's relationship is progressing.

A surface reading shows a good number of "quirky" touches, such as Jack's penchant for reggae music and his quasi-dreadlocked hair, to the montage "learning" sequences, to some of the staging and soundtrack choices. However, Hoffman clearly feels this material and he turns it into an intimate, emotionally rich atmosphere, with the four leads playing off of one another with great skill and comfort. The characters' relationships are a good deal deeper and more complex than they might appear; the movie is strong enough for a second reading. It's a refreshing drama made by and for grown-ups.

Anchor Bay released the 2011 Blu-Ray, with two featurettes and deleted scenes.

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