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Hoods, Hooligans and Thugs: Oh, My!

‘God’s Pocket’ is quietly derivative

May 13, 2014, 12:00 am

Actor John Slattery—probably best known for his role as Roger Sterling on Mad Men—makes his feature film-directing debut with God’s Pocket, a small, occasionally funny film about low-level criminals in an insular Philadelphia neighborhood.

Mickey (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is an outsider. He’s been living in God’s Pocket a long time and is married to local Jeanie (Christina Hendricks), but everyone reminds him: “You ain’t from here!”

A professional down-on-his-luck crook, Mickey has money problems, and his life gets even worse when his stepson Leon (Caleb Landry Jones) is killed on a construction site. The crew tells the cops it was an accident, but Jeanie suspects foul play and asks Mickey to investigate.

There isn’t much in God’s Pocket we haven’t seen before. In tone, it bears a resemblance to Palookaville, a superior chronicle of dim hoods in a dead-end existence. In plot, there’s a touch of Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry. But Slattery has a good sense of pacing and the movie hums with dark humor, random violence and one surprise.

The cinematography, by Lance Acord, is too self-consciously dark, but the performances are spot on. Hoffman is appropriately haggard and John Turturro does his dumb-hooligan thing to perfection. It’s too bad they didn’t have a better story.


Directed by John Slattery
With Hoffman, Hendricks and Turturro
The Screen
89 min.


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