A Sundance review of Jack Goes Boating, directed by and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. (IFC)
Philip Seymour Hoffman loves theater. He got his start in it as an undergrad in NYU, he's an instrumental member of the LAB, he's appeared in Broadway revivals of "Long Day's Journey Into Night" and "True West." So it's not unexpected that he chose a play (by Bob Glaudini, who also wrote the screenplay) to adapt for his directorial debut. But I wish he hadn't. "Jack Goes Boating" is packed with all of the issues of the typical play-to-film transfer. Characters drift into monologues, long single location scenes have to be awkwardly broken up, we drop into the middle of conversations in a self-conscious way that would look a lot better if preceded by the lights coming up at the start of Act 2. Things that work well on the stage tend, on film, to look awfully, you know, stagey.