Sundance Film Festival 2010: Day Two (Part Two)

We check out Chris Morris's Four Lions and Phillip Seymour Hoffman's debut Jack Goes Boating.

by Amber Wilkinson

Four Lions director Chris Morris

Four Lions director Chris Morris

The only trouble with interviews - even enjoyable ones like those earlier - is that they consume huge parts of the day, so it was mid-afternoon before I hit a cinema seat. But what a treat it was - Chris Morris's directorial debut Four Lions.

It comes as a surprise to find that a film about four bungling wannabe suicide bombers can have quite so much heart and quite so many laughs, while still managing to raise some unsettling issues. Both laugh out loud funny and as serious as a bullet through your artery - you can read the full review here.

Introducing the film to a serious amount of applause, Chris Morris thanks the cast and crew, revealed that the writers were also seeing the finished version for the first time and ended by saying: "My wife is seeing the film for the first time tonight. And she just said to me: "Look, even if it's shit, well done, you've made a film."

After the film, there's a lively Q&A session with Morris and the members of the cast. Asked about balancing the darker aspects of the drama with the comedy, Morris says: "I think we had to keep riding into this and not shrink from it. Otherwise why have you set off on making this film about this subject. I felt that a left turn at that point would have undermined all that had gone before, so as long as what we were doing was truthful and the jokes kept coming, that was fine."

Phillip Seymour Hoffman and cast at <a href=Jack Goes Boating premiere">
Phillip Seymour Hoffman and cast at Jack Goes Boating premiere

After the screening it was a case of a quick dash across town for my last film of the day - the premiere of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's Jack Goes Boating, which, in a nutshell, suggests that Phillip shouldn't go directing.

Hoffman introduced the film in between snaps of chewing gum. He said: "This is such a special thing in so many ways."

He added: "The film has a huge heart and everyone in it has huge, huge hearts."

His debut never really gets off the mark. It is written by Bob Glaudini and based on his own play - in which Hoffman starred. Though Hoffman does his best to bring it out of the stage and into the streets of New York, the characters lack credibility and the story development is patchy at best. Hoffman plays Jack, who, after a blind date embarks on a growing love affair with Connie (Amy Ryan), who has enough neuroses for at least three characters. As their romance tentatively begins to blossom the marriage of their friends Clyde (John Ortiz) and Lucy (Daphne Ruby-Vega) starts to fall apart. Sadly, it isn't just the characters that are unbelievable, the path they take also feels out of kilter and there are some serious pacing issues. The acting is solid but this feels like just another entry on the long list of average New York ensemble dramas with a comic touch.

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