When Philip Seymour Hoffman sadly passed much too early at the age of 46 as a respected actor, I realised there were a lot of films from his 20 plus years long career I had not seen and decided to remedy that and gradually review all those I can get my hands on, starting with one that came and went fairly quietly; God’s Pocket. With an interesting cast and mysterious plot as well as being directorial debut of Roger Sterling himself, John Slattery it’s strange this one didn’t receive more attention. Hoffman plays Mickey, husband to our second Mad Men alum Christina Hendrick’s Jeanie who is told that her son has died in a workplace “accident” which she refuses to believe. This film tells the story of how things then begin to fall apart, dealing with the death of a child and some dodgy dealings, cliches of American working class towns and Mickey in the middle of it all just trying to do his best. The plot of this film does not really reveal itself, there doesn’t appear to be one clear aim or direction and I’m not sure there actually is one; it’s more just going along for the journey in a few days of the lives of the chosen few, not having that real direction is a slight disadvantage but not a major detriment to the film. The acting is one strong factor, there’s no real weak link unless you want to count Eddie Marsan’s attempt at an American accent, he’s a great actor but needs a little work on that one. Realistically with that said, there’s not a lot to comment on with the cast; Hendricks stands out above the rest as Hoffman is much more subtle but they all do a decent job including: John Turturro, Richard Jenkins and Caleb Landry Jones, and Peter Gerety.
Moving back to the story, though the plot is perfectly simple to decipher it feels as though it can’t decide what it wants to be; which makes the end result seem slightly confused; whether the confusion can be attributed to Slattery as director or screenwriter Alex Metcalf translating the book to the big screen is unknown. The reality of it is that it could have worked better really committing to being a dark comedy; instead it plays as more of a drama with some strangely comedic moments. If not completely following the line of dark comedy it would have been better to see more sympathy grown for these characters to draw you into their lives and feel for what they’re going through. That comedic element would have pushed the better parts of the film to improve the overall quality.
In general I’d say it’s worth the watch but as a performance by Hoffman as I already mentioned it’s fairly subdued and quiet, more of a passenger than a driver of the journey, your general gambling schmo. For that reason I wouldn’t be quick to recommend it for fans of Hoffman, it’s not a disappointing watch but it is relatively forgettable; which explains its lack of traction on release.
Next up is Charlie Wilson’s War.