I don't want to give the impression that this film is some kind of music video collage, because it's not. Far from it. The other thing that strikes me about the direction is the tendency, reminiscent of John Cassavetes, to let scenes go on for just a little bit longer than you think they should, allowing for moments of tension or discomfort to linger and echo. And there are a lot of moments of tension and discomfort in the film. The silences contrast beautifully with the more musical moments.
The film is adapted from a play about the intermingling relationships of two couples. One is beginning, the other is established and endured, if not enduring. The established couple, Clyde and Lucy (John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega), set up their friend Jack (Hoffman) with Lucy's co-worker Connie (Amy Ryan). The use of contrast at work again. One relationship is about to bloom, while the other fights a season of wither. Hoffman, Ortiz, and Ruben-Vega starred in the stage version and reprise their respective roles here. Needless to say they know their parts inside and out. The film has a playful and slow pace and is filled with sharp dialog, a lot of which seems to jump in from out of nowhere. Half the stuff that comes out of Connie's mouth made me chuckle and think 'Where did that come from? Did she really just say that?' Amy Ryan is fabulous here, as are all the players.
The only weakness is that the climactic scene sort of fails, but it doesn't kill the film. It's just one scene you might wish had been done better or different. Or maybe not. Jack Goes Boating is a wonderful character play with a strong script, great acting, and a moving soundtrack. It's kind of brutal and it's pure Philip.
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Amy Ryan