The final tragedy of Philip Seymour Hoffman

Tuesday, 4 February, 2014

Ten days ago, Associated Press film writer Jessica Herndon spoke to Philip Seymour Hoffman in Park City, Utah, and here’s the opening sentence of her report: “Philip Seymour Hoffman’s new movie is a psychological thriller about terrorism, but he says it also has something to do with hitting a midlife crisis — and that’s what really drew him to the role.” The midlife crisis turned out to be more destructive than most of its kind and the actor was found dead on Sunday morning in his New York apartment, after a suspected drug overdose. He was 46.

The reason that Jessica Herndon interviewed Philip Seymour Hoffman in Park City was that his most recent film, A Most Wanted Man, had premiered at the Sundance Film Festival there. Hoffman plays a rogue German counter-terrorism expert, heading up an anti-terrorism team in Hamburg, the former home of the 9/11 hijackers. The film is based on John Le Carre’s 2008 thriller, which is marred by the author’s didacticism. The US has now replaced the USSR as the le Carré adversary of choice and his portrayal of Americans is too close to caricature to be considered seriously. It is a tragedy that this would turn out to be Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final serious film.

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