Release Date: May 16, 2014
Running Time: 88 minutes
If you’re born in God’s Pocket, you die in God’s Pocket. There’s no escaping God’s Pocket, a fictitious south Philadelphia neighborhood that lends its name to first-time director John Slattery’s grim portrait of life in an insular working-class community that takes care of its business its own way. The late Phillip Seymour Hoffman stars as the outsider who lives in God’s Pocket as a result of his marriage to Christina Hendricks. When his stepson dies at work under suspicious circumstances, Hoffman’s tasked by Hendricks to determine what really happened. As Slattery makes us a witness to the stepson’s death, there isn’t a mystery to be uncovered in God’s Pocket. So Slattery and screenwriter Alex Metcalf’s adaptation of Pete Dexter’s 1983 novel serves as an unwanted opportunity to wander around a depressed neighborhood no one in their right mind would willingly venture into and to encounter unsavory salt-of-the-earth types you would cross the street to avoid. While the late Hoffman finds mild humor in his smalltime criminal’s lethargic efforts to appease his grieving wife, Slattery is unable to consistency maintain the tragicomic tone he strives for with God’s Pocket. The characters in God’s Pocket are more pathetic than funny, and the circumstances under which they find themselves often feel forced. Slattery, who plays Roger Sterling opposite Hendricks’ Joan Harris on Mad Men, appears to want us to admire the residents of God’s Pocket for their adherence to their simple way of existence and their loyalty to their friends and neighbors, even those they despise. But the bad behavior on display in God’s Pocket, including Hendricks’ willingness to take extreme measure to find out the truth about her son’s death, generates nothing but pity at best or disgust at worst for a people who give the working class a bad name.
Aired: May 15, 2014
Web site: http://www.ifcfilms.com/films/gods-pocket