What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that God's Pocket -- a drama based on Pete Dexter's novel -- is one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's final films. It's very odd and off-kilter, seeming like it should be a dark comedy but presented as a grim, washed-out drama. There are several scenes of fighting, with spurts of blood and characters killed in brutal ways, and three somewhat graphic sex scenes, though relatively little nudity (one woman's bare breast and buttocks are glimpsed). One woman sleeps with two different men. Language is strong and frequent, including uses of "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," and the "N" word. Most of the characters drink heavily and frequently and are often drunk, and many scenes take place in a local bar. The movie's depressing tone and its treatment of the characters -- who are a pretty unredeemable bunch -- make it only for mature viewers.
What's the story?
In the working-class neighborhood of God's Pocket in South Philadelphia, a young man (Caleb Landry Jones) is killed on a construction job. His mother, Jeanie (Christina Hendricks), is distraught, and his stepfather, Mickey Scarpato (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman), starts trying to raise the money for his funeral. But he tries to sell meat from a stolen refrigerator truck and loses money on a sure-fire horse, she undertaker (Eddie Marsan) tosses the body in an alley when he realizes that Mickey doesn't have the cash. Meanwhile, a drunken newspaper columnist (Richard Jenkins) has been assigned to find out how the young man was killed and tries to seduce Jeanie. Will everyone survive until the funeral?
Is it any good?
Actor John Slattery, of Mad Men, began his directorial career by going behind the camera for several episodes of that hit show, but his skills don't seem to translate to the big screen. Adapting and directing Pete Dexter's 1983 novel GOD'S POCKET, Slattery makes a movie that seems to cry out for some kind of black humor. After all, it has a dead body bouncing around in a truck for half of its running time. And yet it's played straight, as a grim, washed-out, hopeless drama.
Where the movie goes right is in its casting. The late, great Hoffman gives a powerful, pained performance in one of his final movies. Jenkins is also interesting as the writer whose "common people" newspaper columns are adored. Hendricks, Marsan, and John Turturro add some color, and a few moments spring to life, but their characters are mostly under explored. We leave knowing less than we might expect, but -- given the movie's depressing tone -- more than we probably want to.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about God's Pocket's violence. Why do characters fight? What drives their aggressive behavior toward each other? Vengeance? Rage? Depression? Do they have any alternative solutions?
What's the mood of the movie's sex scenes? How are sex and relationships portrayed? What effect do these scenes have on the rest of the movie, or vice versa? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
Why do these characters drink so much alcohol? What is it about their community that encourages it? Are there any realistic consequences for the behavior?