God’s Pocket Blu-ray Review
Life in God’s Pocket, Pennsylvania live relatively simple lives. They work, they get married, they have kids. It’s a small community populated by those that were born there, and when a tragedy occurs, they all know about it.
The movie opens at a funeral. Tears stream down the mother’s face, some pass around a flask, others are physically bruised. Shift to three days earlier. Mickey Scarpato (Philip Seymour Hoffman, A MOST WANTED MAN), like many others in God’s Pocket, owes and is owed money. His stepson, Leon (Caleb Landry Jones, 2012’s ANTIVIRAL), is a nimrod who spends the majority of his shift twirling a knife and hurling racial slurs at one of the forklift drivers. He says one insult too many, winds up with a pipe to the head and lets the audience know he was the one in the coffin.
Instead of letting bad word travel in the tight-knit town, Leon’s coworkers inform anyone who asks that “something fell on him.” While the truth wouldn’t bring her son back, it still might put the grieving and suspicious Jeannie (Christina Hendricks, AMC’s MAD MEN) at ease. Knowing he can’t afford to pay for a funeral that will make her happy, Mickey decides to get rid of the body himself. Also in the mix are Mickey’s buddy Arthur (John Turturro, FADING GIGOLO), a funeral parlor owner named Smilin’ Jack (Eddie Marsan, Showtime’s RAY DONOVAN), bald tough Sal (Domenick Lombardozzi, THE FAMILY) and Richard Shelburn (Richard Jenkins, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS), a columnist who speaks in lines that make it sound like he’s some halfwit character in a pulp novel. All of these characters are poorly concocted composites of other clichés; it’s like they’re all auditioning for a role in a bad television series, which is exactly what GOD’S POCKET feels like.
Hoffman, Hendricks, Turturro and company bring what they can, but there’s really only so they can do with their characters, and so GOD’S POCKET marks the biggest waste of a talented cast of the year. The screenplay, which is written by first-time director John Slattery (also AMC’s MAD MEN) and Alex Metcalf (2008’s AN AMERICAN AFFAIR) and based on Pete Dexter’s 1983 novel of the same name, doesn’t help their efforts, as it’s littered with so many terrible, empty lines that don’t have the intended tough-guy delivery (“It’s cold out.” “It’s a cold world.”) and absurd scenarios that do little to heighten the tension. Much of this falls on Slattery, who never finds the proper tone to make his debut authentic and anything but a stale retread.
So many of the primary characters end up doing such stupid and dangerous things—like Mickey’s insistence on ditching his stepson’s corpse—that the viewer starts to become unsure whether to root for any of these people other than Jeannie. Some mean well, but their poor decisions only make the audience shrug and think, Well, what should we care since this guy brought all of this on himself?
GOD’S POCKET premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
GOD’S POCKET BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 2.35:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This high-definition transfer of GOD’S POCKET has a natural and authentic look to it, as well as fine details in locations, sets and skin textures.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Subtitles in English and Spanish. The audio is also strong and features atmospheric sound and clean dialogue for the duration.
Commentary with co-writer/director/producer John Slattery: Slattery offers a strong solo commentary, as he touches on production stories as well as the difficulties of making an independent feature.
Deleted Scenes (2:49): There are three short scenes here, which can only be viewed together.