Limousine driver Jack has problems with his life, or at least he is convinced that he has, although as he has no real way of determining what is good or bad about his general condition. Help could be at hand via his co-worker Clyde, and particularly Clyde’s enthusiastic wife Lucy, who sets him up for a date with Connie. Jack’s approach is to cook Connie a meal, a really terrific meal. But first he has to learn to cook. Is there any hope that Jack and Connie’s relationship will thrive, or indeed Clyde and Lucy’s for that matter? And is there a chance that perhaps come summer Jack may – or may not – go boating?
‘It’s not hard to be a positive person around you,’ is declared of the titular Jack, played with convincing general confusion by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who also takes on the role of director for this quiet drama. Its style and structure clearly marks this film as an American indie in terms of the way it deals with situations and character interactions and although this marks his debut as a film director, Hoffman has previously directed in the arena of the theatre, which goes a long way to explain the way that this works as an almost effortless actors’ piece. Despite the lack of theatrical style locations in favour of multiple environments that are more obviously suited to film, this is nevertheless a work that has obvious theatrical origins – indeed writer Robert Glaudini adapted the screenplay from his play. Many of the theatrical cast have made the transition from the stage to the screen and their familiarity with the characters can be seen in their comfortable portrayal of their roles. The result is an amiable enough film that doesn’t outstay its welcome although it does not create any profound revelations or deep shocks. That said, proceedings are interesting enough and revealed in a way that seems plausible and convincing even if the situations that the characters find themselves in are not extreme, but equally not normal. So we learn that Jack’s approach to life is to keep plugging away at it – from his desire to cook a great meal or learning to swim so that he can eventually indulge in the boating activity he so wants to try.
Overall an eminently watchable indie drama that takes its individual but under-ambitious (although at times overly confident) characters and shows the normality of life with its sporadic absurdity in a modern world. A solid directorial debut.