Staff Reviews: Jack Goes Boating by Martin Barker, Front of House

There’s no doubt Hoffman is incredibly well respected for his acting. However, Hoffman the director is untested and this directoral debut ‘Jack goes boating; in my opinion, passes that test. It is adapted from a play Hoffman himself starred in by Robert Glaudini and also featuring his co-stars from that play, John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega, alongside Amy Ryan. The film really benefits in my opinion from the clear connection between all the actors involved and Hoffman is more than capable at capturing this.

The story centers around Jack (Hoffman) and Connie (Ryan) two slightly awkward but ultimately sweet people who are set up by Jack’s best friend Clyde and his long term girlfriend, Lucy. The film then revolves around the slow development of Jack and Connie’s relationship. Whilst also focusing on the growing cracks in Clyde’s and Lucy’s. Jack then begins swimming lessons with the help of Clyde and sets of on a journey of self-improvement, with all characters learning along the way that love isn’t always easy.

In terms of story this film is nothing new, so why should you go see it? What sets this film apart from many others in its genre is the quality of the acting. Hoffman as always is excellent and I defy anyone not to develop a soft spot for his character. All the supporting cast bring in strong performances, I especially enjoyed the scenes between Hoffman and Ortiz, establishing the deep friendship between them. Both female leads also play there parts well, although for me it would have been nice to have seen Ryan stretched a bit further acting wise just as she is very capable of it, but she gets the role she has to play spot on.

The film may for some be a tad slow in parts, for me certainly at times it had the feel of the play it originally came from and so occasionally didn’t translate exactly onto film but I quite enjoyed this observational style. Directorial debuts can either sink or swim, and for me Jack Goes Boating manages to set sail through a gust of excellent acting, solid directing and a story which has enough heart in it that you can’t help but root for the two central characters. Hoffman the director is one to watch.

Martin Barker works in the café bar and when not struggling to balance your meals from the kitchen to the table or watching films, he enjoys live music and exploring new places.

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