John Slattery’s God’s Pocket is a gloomy tale of a small town in Philadelphia that both time and God have forgotten. Dark, grotesque and occasionally funny, the film offers an intriguing yet ultimately depressing look into the lives of these downtrodden and immobile characters.
Philip Seymour Hoffman predictably shines as Mickey, a man whose son has died in a supposed accident at work. In reality, the crazy young man was killed but the general feeling is that this nasty piece of work had it coming. No one at work will speak out for him, apart from a young man who is unable to speak due to a severe stutter.
This leaves Mickey with a funeral to pay for, and as gambling is the only way to make money in this town, that’s what he does. Inevitably, he loses everything and ends up with no money and a body he can’t get rid of. As the films continues, it changes from a purely bleak tale to what looks more like a comedy of errors, with gunshots, car chases and bodies.
The cast is the best thing about this film, from the old alcoholic journalist played by Richard Jenkins to Old Lucy, the ancient labourer who kills the boy. The cast really captures the desolate, non-communicative nature of this town where nothing moves forward and everyone sits in the same bar each night.
Where the film falls down is in its restrictiveness, not allowing the cast to progress or evolve as characters. What’s more, there is a lack of exploration of issues, which are often thrown up but merely skimmed over in order to move on with the harshness of the story. Racism, sexism and class are all definitely floating in the background but they never surface as true concerns to be delved into and examined.
God’s Pocket is a bleak portrayal of life in working class town that is unnervingly realistic, and consequently sometimes rather dull. Although Hoffman is at his best as Mickey, he can’t hold the film on his own and as a result the general feeling is stagnant and depressing.
God’s Pocket is released nationwide on 8th August 2014.
Watch the trailer for God’s Pocket here: