Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christina Hendricks, John Turturro, Richard Jenkins, Eddie Marsan
Directed by: John Slattery
Synopsis: A blue collar worker tries to cover things up when his stepson is killed in a suspicious accident, but a local reporter senses that something’s amiss.
Being a big fan of Mad Men, I was interested to see a project directed by John Slattery (Roger in the show) and featuring Christina Hendricks (Joan in the show). Obviously I wasn’t expecting it to be anything like Mad Men, but I was hoping God’s Pocket may have a bit more to it than this.
It’s an odd movie, one that doesn’t overly know what it wants to be. Is it a gangster movie? A kitchen sink drama? A commentary on the inequality that pervades small town America? A jack of all trades, master of none would probably be about right. Which is big shame because ultimately it will be judged as being one of the last performances of the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman, and it’s not really a fitting end to his stellar career.
I didn’t hate the movie. It was darkly comic in places and some of the threads of story line could have been expanded to make a pretty good movie. There is a thought process that sometimes a film is let down by telling the wrong story about the wrong person. You want to watch the story about the weird guy on the fringe of the story, as he seems far more interesting. That could, in some way, be applied to God’s Pocket. If you had said to me that the whole film was about Hoffman and Turturro’s characters and their need to repay a debt to a local gangster I would have been interested. If you had told me that the only storyline I needed to get my head around was the death of Hendrick’s son, and the mysterious circumstances surrounding it, I would have got on board. But unfortunately we had to contend with a pretty meaningless extra story involving Richard Jenkins’ sleazy, drunken journalist trying to bed Hendricks. I’m not sure that added anything worthwhile to the story.
The performances were all good as you would expect from performers of this ilk. The ones who faired better were the ones with the most screen time (Hoffman especially). Some of the others, such as Jenkins and Eddie Marsan were kind of wasted to a degree.
I think Slattery chose some wrong options with God’s Pocket. He could have made a darkly comic gangster story, or a serious thriller about the death and cover up of someone’s son. But instead he tried to make both, with some other storylines thrown in for good measure and ended up ruining the taste. Too much seasoning!!
God’s Pocket is an odd film, not an especially bad one. But under the circumstances, being one of Hoffman’s last performances, you just hoped it would have provided something more.