No matter how much you try not to, you go into movies with expectations. They may be high or they may be low, but you expect a film to be something. I expected God’s Pocket to be good – it ended up being very disappointing.
Mad Men’s John Slattery (Roger Sterling) makes his feature length debut with this black comedy based on Pete Dexter’s novel of the same name. He’s assembled an impressive cast including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jenkins, John Turturro and his Mad Men co-star Christina Hendricks, but God’s Pocket’s is an incredibly uneven film that fails to register on any level.
The 1990s saw a lot of darkly comedic crime dramas that riffed on Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers. Most of these films where terrible, lacking the wit and precision of the film’s they were aping. Slattery’s film is a reminder that quirky doesn’t necessarily make a film endearing and that characters must have something extra to make them come alive on screen.
The cast doesn’t have a lot to work with the script by Slattery and Alex Metcalf as it just isn’t as sharp as it should be and characters seemingly do things because that’s what the plot needs them to do. The acting isn’t bad, but everyone involved here has done (and is capable of doing) much better. This is one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final roles and you can see a man coasting and not rising to the challenge to deliver a great performance.
The visuals of God’s Pocket aren’t much to write home about either. I’m sure the washed out palette was a stylist choice, but there’s nothing that makes the film stand out. This would have been okay if the performances popped or the script had punch but they don’t. Everything is inert.
A huge disappointment, God’s Pocket shows that even people with talent can fail. This isn’t a studio blockbuster and I imagine that a lot of effort was involved in brining Slattery’s vision to the screen. But maybe that vision just wasn’t good enough.