Review: Philip Seymour Hoffman in John Slattery’s ‘God’s Pocket’


If there is some kind of magic pill I could take that would make me enjoy a mediocre movie, then I would have gladly taken it for God’s Pocket.

I went into the film really hoping to like John Slattery’s writing and directing debut. Slattery is a wonderful actor and I’ve enjoyed the episodes of Mad Men that he’s directed. The film’s got an outstanding cast of character actors including Richard Jenkins, John Turturro and Eddie Marsan. It’s got Christina Hendricks who I like and, it has Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his last roles.

But, a mediocre film is a mediocre film.

Hoffman plays Mickey, a going nowhere kind of guy who’s always looking for the next deal. When his possibly insane stepson Leon (Caleb Landry Jones) is killed in a construction “accident”, Mickey does all he can to help Leon’s mom (Hendricks) get over her grief. As she starts wanting answers about the death and as his debt continues to grow, Mickey starts to throw himself into situations that a normal thinking person would avoid.

The film has an almost 70’s era vibe to it, in the look and feel and the way it’s lit. It feels like it wants to be more gritty than it actually is though. It’s like a watered down version of an early Scorsese film.

Hoffman seems almost bored in the role of Mickey. The character isn’t one for showy bits of emotion but he seems to be sleepwalking through the role. Granted his sleepwalking is another actors greatest performance ever but still, as an audience member we live or die by the main character and if he seems bored, what will we be when we’re watching it?

Jenkins is fabulous as always (he’s got a great introduction) and why wouldn’t you want to cast Turturro, as Mickey’s scummy friend? And Landry Jones… I had no idea what to make of his character. He looked and acted like he just escaped from a mental institution. There was no explanation of why he acted like he did so when his character dies, and all of the events that occur because of the death happen, you don’t care. Everyone thought the kid was nuts… so why care what happens after that?

Slattery is a fine director and he does have some good moments here. The problem is that they are just few and far between.

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