Quick Film Guide: Jack Goes Boating (Philip Seymour Hoffman, 2010)

Jack Goes Boating
Directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman
USA

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s directorial debut came in 2010, and it was a big-screen adaptation of a play he’d starred in during his first flirtation with the theatre – the melancholic story of a New York City limo driver and a funeral saleswoman.

On the surface, there’s nothing particularly original about this film. Jack Goes Boating is the kind of mid-life romantic drama that gets churned out by the pound every year, most of them promptly forgotten. However, because of Hoffman’s tragic death, it is interesting to note his closeness to the character he portrays and speculate on the motivations that led him to direct it.

For example, one of the things he was most proud of in the process of adaptation was his ability to use close-ups and really show the emotional struggles on the actors’ faces – something that, naturally, is impossible to do on stage and accentuates intimacy. Jack Goes Boating is an exploration of heartbreak and loneliness, and while it is only a modest film, it is also a very honest film.

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