Based on the book by Peter Dexter of the same name, God’s Pocket centres around a family based in the Philadelphia suburb of the same name. The film was directed by John Slattery, who we all know as Mad Men’s Roger Stirling, his previous directorial jobs being a few episodes of Man Men, this is his first full-length feature.
One day Micky’s (Philip Seymour Hoffman) druggy step son Leon (Caleb Landry Jones) is killed in a construction ‘accident’ at work, the family are not convinced that the police are giving the correct story so decide to take to investigating on their own. This leads to a twisting, screwball black comedy ending with Leon dying twice and Micky’s wife Jeanie (Christina Hendricks) getting involved with alcoholic local celebrity journalist Richard Shellburn (Richard Jenkins).
The movie brings to mind the stylings, pace, plotlines and humour of The Sopranos. This somewhat makes sense seeing Matthew Weiner’s involvement in the show showing that that Slattery must have learned a lot from working with Weiner on Mad Men.
As with Mad Men and The Sopranos it is a bit of a sausage fest, though Christina Hendricks is stunning as ever and really tremendous as Micky’s disinterested and sultry wife.
Like most people would, I watched the movie with a mild melancholy, thinking of the talent that Hoffman had. This is again a fine performance he puts in, and though maybe not the best movie he has been in, stands up as well to any of his other roles. One of the things that made Hoffman a great actor was that he was so comfortable with humour and drama. In this movie he plays Micky very straight there but in some ways this makes the situations that the character finds himself in more hilarious. The rumours are that he could be nominated for a posthumous Oscar for his role in the forthcoming ‘A Most Wanted Man’ and hopefully he will be recognized for one of his last few efforts this year.
Smart, funny and unpredictable, this is a bold first directorial effort from Slattery and highly recommended.
Arrow Films (UK)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
UK Release Date: 8th August 2014
Directed by: John Slattery
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christina Hendricks, Richard Jenkins, John Turturro