'God's Pocket' a gray, haunting role
God's Pocket is the kind of neighborhood where everyone knows everyone else's business and residents go by names such as Smilin' Jack and Old Lucy, where the only way to get rich is to bet on horses and the sole way to settle an argument is with fists. In his feature directorial debut, John Slattery brings the working-class South Philly neighborhood vividly — or grayly, really — to life.
The late Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Mickey, a man with problems. His stepson has just died, and the boy's mother, Jeanie (Christina Hendricks), tasks Mickey with finding out what really happened. In truth, Leon was murdered while working his factory job, and the little sociopath had it coming. His co-workers aren't willing to talk to the police, except for one, and he has a prohibitive stutter. So, the official word is that Leon's death was an on-the-job accident.
This leads to another conundrum: Mickey can't pay for the pricey mahogany casket Jeanie wants, much less the funeral. He needs to be repaid by his friend and partner-in-crime (literally), Arthur (John Turturro), but Arthur already owes thousands to an extremely scary mobster played by Domenick Lombardozzi.
One problem leads to another, and pretty soon, there's an avalanche of car crashes and gunshots, eye-gouging and even a runaway corpse.
The trappings add to a feeling that God's Pocket is a place that time forgot. Even the local newspaper columnist (played by Richard Jenkins) merely writes the same op-ed again and again, filling his free time with booze and women.
The movie's earliest scenes feel somber, as if a tragic ending is inevitable. But then, somewhere around the mid-point, the tone pivots into more of a dark comedy. W
hat began as an intriguing snapshot begins to feel grotesque and inscrutable.
But, through it all, Hoffman shines as Mickey, a guy who can't quite get anything right. While the bouts of comedy make a calamitous finale feel less imminent, the tragedy remains: Even in a flawed movie, Hoffman is beyond reproach, and our opportunities to see his work are numbered.
Stephanie Merry is a staff writer for The Washington Post.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- DVD reviews: ‘This is Where I Leave You,’ ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and ‘The Skeleton Twins’
- Oakmont’s Oaks Theater owner projects updates will expand presence, use
- Tis the season: Holiday home video gift guide
- Review: Chris Rock more at home on stage than off in ‘Top Five’
- Review: Aussie horror film invites us to throw a ‘Babadook’ on the barbie
- Review: ‘The Homesman’ bleak, hard and full of strength
- ‘Birdman’ tops Golden Globes with 7 nominations
- Jackson’s Middle-earth films changed Hollywood
- ‘Hobbit’ tinkering is in a good cause, film creators say