JACK GOES BOATING (Dir. Philip Seymour Hoffman, 2010)
Like the films of many first time directors, Philip Seymour Hoffman's debut is a filmed play. The play being Bob Glaudini's off Broadway 2007 production of the same name.
Hoffman reprises his role as Jack with John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega also reprising their stage roles.
Amy Ryan (The Wire, The Office, GONE BABY GONE) replaces Beth Cole in the part of Hoffman's love interest.
The story is as spare as can be - Hoffman is a reclusive reggae loving limousine driving New Yorker whose married friends (Ortiz and Rubin-Vega) want to set him up on a date with Ryan - a just as reclusive employee at a local funeral home.
Hoffman and Ryan plan to go on a boating trip when it gets warmer.
In the meantime, they agree to an "official date before the boating date" in which Jack will cook dinner for the 2 couples.
It's an odd rambling evening with confessional speeches mixed with drugs and a lot of awkwardness.
This film really takes its time and it can be a bit trying, but its emotional messiness never feels phony. Hoffman puts in some of his finest acting and gets nuanced and nervy performances out of his co-stars.
In the end JACK GOES BOATING is the small unimposing work of a professional actor yet amateur director.
Hoffman makes a number of interesting visual choices that show he was paying attention when he worked with some of the greatest film makers of the last 20 years - Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Lee, the Coen Brothers, Sydney Lumet, et al.
Although it defines the phrase "promising debut", I bet with more ambitious material Hoffman will make a more substantial mark than with this likable, though lackluster lark.