13th Jan2015

‘God’s Pocket’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christina Hendricks, Eddie Marsan, Richard Jenkins, John Turturro, Caleb Landry Jones, Jack O’Connell | Written by John Slattery, Alex Metcalf | Directed by John Slattery


Last year when we lost Philip Seymour Hoffman we lost one of the best actors of our generation, or any generation.  It’s hard to comprehend the loss that the movie industry had with his passing (and the passing of others), but if we have something, we have his movies to show just how good he was.  God’s Pocket is an example of him at his best, a film so dark that it makes you feel bad for the inevitable moments you can’t help but laugh.

Hoffman plays Mickey, a loser who spends his days making money through petty crime and gambling, then spending it in the local bar before stumbling home drunk to his wife Jeanie (Christina Hendricks).  When Mickey’s step son Leon (Caleb Laundry Jones) is killed by a co-worker and his death is covered up and called an accident everybody knows it makes no sense.  Jeanie doesn’t accept the official verdict demanding Mickey and others hunt out the truth.

God’s Pocket is something of a low rent Goodfellas.  Taking place in a close-knit neighbourhood it is a place where everybody knows each other, constant in-fighting takes place and people just accept life as the hell it is that is just the way things are.  Everything is bleak and for most the only place to find solace is in the bottom of a bottle.  Mickey, although he wasn’t born in God’s Pocket is accepted as one of them, and it is through Hoffman’s performance that we see just how bad being one of them is, especially being one that could still be turned against as being just another outsider.  Whether it’s Smilin’ Jack Moran (Eddie Marsan) the funeral director throwing Leon’s body out into the street because Mickey can’t afford to pay or the inevitable gambling losses due to bad choices, things are never positive for Mickey even if things work out in the end.

The death of Leon is inconsequential in the movie, we hardly even know much about him other than him being a tool to show just how low Mickey’s luck can get.  What he does highlight though even as a corpse is that a community who proclaim with pride that they care for their own really don’t give a damn about anybody but themselves.  Jeanie may be the shining light in a way looking answers, but if anything this is a break from the status quo and only manages to show how fractured her marriage and the community strength of God’s Pocket actually is.

Jeanie’s relationship with Richard Shelburn (Richard Jenkins) the reporter looking for a story in her son’s death shows again just like with Mickey that outsiders will never understand God’s Pocket, even if Shelburn writes so much about it.  His drunken antics and infatuation with Jeanie is somewhat of a catalyst to a downfall where there isn’t really too far for any of the characters to fall, as his writing shows…if you are from God’s Pocket you are the lowest of the low as it is.

To make a film like God’s Pocket work there has to be strong performances from the actors and we do know that we can trust Philip Seymour Hoffman to get this right, and he plays the part perfectly.  Christina Hendricks never misses a beat as Jeanie, and John Turturro reminds us that he may be in Transformers but he is wasted in movies like that when he can give performances like in this movie.  The casting choices are spot on in God’s Pocket, especially with people like Eddie Marsan who seems to have almost perfected that sleazy weasel like little character that is so easy to hate.

God’s Pocket is a film that is proud of just how dark it can get but even in that darkness it still makes time to get a laugh out of the audience.  You can’t help but be impressed with the acting on screen and it really does show just what a talent we lost with the passing of Hoffman.  God’s Pocket is a story about tortured souls looking for a way to make their lives better but failing miserably and in many ways what makes it so good is the fact that even if we don’t have it that bad, we can relate to all of the losers we see on the screen.

***** 5/5

God’s Pocket is available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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