Jack Goes Boating (15)

Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan

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Philip Seymour Hoffman directs and stars in this modest drama about two lonely people connecting in the big city.

 He plays New York limo driver Jack, whose best pal Clyde (John Ortiz) and his wife Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega) introduce him to shy single woman Connie (Amy Ryan). Prompted by an urge to self-improvement Jack learns how to swim, to cook and, eventually, to go boating; meanwhile, the Cupid-playing couple find their marriage beginning to disintegrate. The acting is impeccable, and no wonder - three of the four played the roles on stage in Robert Glaudini's Off Broadway play. Some of its theatricality intrudes, especially during the set-piece dinner where Jack is due to unveil his long-practised supper. Ryan is the stand-out, a meek reed bent but not broken by the city's harsh gusts. It's scrappy, minor-key stuff, competently handled.