Friday, March 02, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Jack Goes Boating (2010) ***

R, 91 min.
Director: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Writer: Robert Glaudini (also play)
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan, John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega

I often wonder why every romance that isn’t a tired Hollywood formula has to be so pessimistic about love. There is such thing as real love, true love. There are people who just love each other. It isn’t a fairy tale. Life is always getting in the way of happiness, but it’s the other elements that get in the way, not the love. That love isn’t always tested. Often it’s the strength that gets you through.

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s “Jack Goes Boating”, based on the play by Robert Glaudini, depicts an early love against a veteran couple who’s love is being tested by each other. The seasoned pair could put the new couple, played by Hoffman and Amy Ryan of “The Office”, off their love; but they don’t. There’s a sweetness in the pairing of Hoffman and Ryan that you might not expect from these character actors who often play not so fuzzy people. Both are somewhat stunted socially, but they’re aware they’ve found a matching soul in the other.

The movie’s perspective on love reminded me a little bit of “Away We Go”, the movie starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph from a couple of years ago where an expecting couple visits relatives and friends to decide what environment would be best in which to raise their child. That movie was criticized, unjustly in my opinion, of presenting its lovers as superior to the couples they were compared against. That is certainly the case with “Jack Goes Boating”. This new couple is superior to the other couple. Why? Simply because they’re discovering they love each other, while the other couple is discovering they don’t any more.

“Jack Goes Boating” is a much darker movie than “Away We Go”, and not as entertaining. It takes a more intimate look at the couple that isn’t working than the other film takes at any of the couples the leads are observing. Their problems are ugly. Hoffman and Ryan offer a great contrast. They don’t yet have what Krasinski and Rudolph share in the other movie, but it seems like they could get there.

No comments: