A sparing script immerses the viewer in the working-class environ of God’s Pocket, allowing impeccable editing, whiplash choreography and top-notch silent acting to take centre stage.
It’s Hendricks who steals the show. Despite barely uttering a word she speaks volumes with every glance. Compositions work hard too; Jeannie (Hendricks) and husband Mickey (Hoffman) are so detached from one another they’re rarely in the same shot.
Scene-stealing minor characters stop just short of caricature and are rendered unforgettable in standout walk-ons which contribute to the film’s several surprises; some gleeful, others baffling and, ultimately, just plain unexpected.
John Slattery’s casting Hoffman in what will now be one of his final performances may have raised the stakes for the Mad Men star’s feature-length directorial debut, but thankfully God’s Pocket doesn’t disappoint. Successfully combining criminal corruption, murder mystery, small-town eccentricity, ultra-violence and black comedy sounds an impossible feat – but of course Roger Sterling’s the man to pull it off.
CAST: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christina Hendricks, Eddie Marsan, Richard Jenkins, John Turturro
DIRECTOR: John Slattery
WRITERS: Alex Metcalf and John Slattery (screenplay), Pete Dexter (novel)
SYNOPSIS: After the death of his wife’s son Leon, Mickey (Hoffman) must pull together the funds for a funeral while navigating the corruption and secrecy of God’s Pocket. A reluctant alcoholic journalist (Jenkins) is tasked with getting to the bottom of Leon’s death.