“Jack Goes Boating” star Amy Ryan tells The Temple News why accepting the role in Philip Seymour Hoffman’s directorial debut was like fitting together a puzzle.
Despite what Hollywood and Disney fairy tales led us to believe, love does not consist of musical montages and love-at-first-sight moments.
“Jack Goes Boating,” a film about what it means to be a forty-something middle-class person living in the fast lane, does nothing to further this stereotype.
The film, directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, uses raw and realistic elements to tell a story through the eyes of four characters battling similar issues in vastly different situations.
Making his directorial debut, Hoffman, who starred in Bob Glaudini’s off-Broadway play the film is adapted from, reprises his role on the big screen as Jack, a limo driver on a Reggae kick.
Jack finds comfort in Connie, an awkward yet desirable introvert who works at a funeral home, when their mutual friends Clyde and Lucy begin a downward slide toward a failed marriage. Clyde, played by “American Gangster” actor John Ortiz, is Jack’s best – and only – friend, while Daphne Rubin-Vega plays his feisty wife Lucy.
While Jack is the lead role, the focus of the plot remains on Ryan’s character, Connie.
Connie plays a central role in keeping the movie from spiraling into a melodrama. Her pregnant pauses and glaring honesty offers the audience a taste of why Ryan accepted the role of Connie in the first place.
“She confused me and I like a challenge,” Ryan said, adding that she was attracted to the film because it depicts the real life of New Yorkers. “The pauses are breathtaking and nerve racking, but very true to life.”
And, as life goes, Ryan was left to her devices to figure out a way to play the part successfully. Because of Connie’s mysterious complexity, the directors left it to Ryan to fit the missing puzzle pieces together.
“It’s like when you’re a kid and you ask your mom how to spell something and she says, ‘Look it up in the dictionary,’” Ryan said, noting that she was ready and willing to put the work in.
Because of the film’s off-Broadway ties, Hoffman asked that the cast rehearse as if the end product was a play, which shows in the final product.
Set mostly in Clyde and Lucy’s Brooklyn apartment, not much changes in the film’s linear plot, which does not divulge many details about the characters background, hence the similarity to a play.
We are presented with two fragile, socially incompetent human beings that seem to be down on their luck and mentally broken, yet we are never given a proper explanation as to what prompted their social demises.
Regardless of a lack of an underlying plot, the story develops in a way that is both disheartening, as Clyde and Lucy’s relationship plummets, and uplifting, as Jack and Connie find confidence and love in one another, which can truly be defined as art depicting life.
Alyssa Brindisi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.