As I watched the climax of “The Hunger Games” series, my mind drifted away from the action on screen thanks to the presence of a fairly blatantly digitized Philip Seymour Hoffman. The resemblance was uncanny, sure, but everything about his facial expressions and mannerisms were wrong.
These pixels, as directed by someone behind a computer, went for obvious. Hoffman never went for what was expected. He always mined the ugliest parts of the soul and dredged up compellingly raw responses.
It’s a pity that he only got one chance to step behind the camera because it really showed a more sensitive, tender side than we ever saw from him. “Jack Goes Boating,” the directorial debut of Philip Seymour Hoffman, is a film of simplicity. Yet in the absence of complication comes a rushing of heart in this wonderfully touching love story.
Hoffman stars as Jack, a socially awkward but good-natured limousine driver. He’s not necessarily looking for romance, but his co-worker Clyde (John Ortiz) tries to set him up with someone. That person is Amy Ryan’s Connie, a similarly sweet woman who stands as her own greatest obstacle. (Meanwhile, little does Clyde know that trying to facilitate one relationship will put the one with his wife under duress.)
Don’t expect fireworks or cinematic bravura from “Jack Goes Boating,” but anticipate feeling unexpectedly moved as these two battered souls make their best attempt at love. Hoffman and Ryan are wholly affecting as they struggle to overcome their own personalities to make the impression and connection they so desire. It’s a real shame we did not get to see more of this vulnerable, lovable and embraceable Philip Seymour Hoffman in his all too brief lifetime.