Philip Seymour Hoffman, Eddie Marsan, John Turturro, and Richard Jenkins; with a cast like this you expect greatness, but as with the recently released star-filled war film The Monuments Men proved, it doesn’t always work out like you would hope. This is a drama or comedy or dramedy or crime movie, I can’t accurately tell which it really is… all I suppose; maybe they should have narrowed it down a bit. With such a short run time they manage to stuff in a covered up work accident that results in a death, a man that owes the mafia, an unsatisfied and unfaithful wife, a man that isn’t local because that matters to these people, a beloved writer with a drinking problem, and a neighborhood filled with caring people one minute, hateful violent ones the next. This has no idea what kind of film it wants to be. There is entirely too much happening with little to no explanation as to why these people are behaving the way they are. There is this progression in the story that carries on as if you should already know everything about everyone. There is no background on these people and so their current predicaments don’t matter.
After a death in the family, Mickey has to hold things together for his distraught wife who has just lost her only child. In a time of little money suddenly he must pay for a funeral and, to top it off, his wife doesn’t believe her son died the way the police described. She, for some magical reason, “knows” he died under more sinister circumstances. So Mickey must arrange a funeral and find out what really happened to his wife’s son. In a tightknit town filled with people who don’t like outsiders, Mickey, who is an outsider himself, has a tough go of things just trying to keep everything level. They like you unless you say something about their town, God’s Pocket. As Mickey navigates through these crazy people that inhabit God’s Pocket he starts to notice a change in his wife, and with rumors flying around town about her infidelity he can’t help but become distracted and that’s when the mistakes start happening. It’s only a three day period but it just may finally drive Mickey crazy. Permanently.
The entire story is centered on this death and the audience is meant to care. We only see this character alive for the first ten minutes or so but in those brief moments we see what a lowlife he really is. It’s very clear he is an ignorant, racist bigot and yet we are supposed to care when he gets what he deserved? Sorry, not me. The whole aspect with this beloved newspaper columnist who is an alcoholic and apparent home wrecker doesn’t fit at all. It feels like an afterthought added on to create more drama and it just feels out of place. Why was she unhappy with her husband? Why does she sleep with this complete stranger? How does this columnist slack off so much at his job and not get fired? This raises so many questions that don’t need to be there. It’s all fluff and no reason for the majority of it; I suppose that’s why it’s called fluff, it’s just something to pass the time. There is a side character who owes the mafia $20,000 and one assumes he owes the money because of gambling but you never really find out. It’s all unexplained extra story that doesn’t belong.
This is a flat, chaotic and pointless story and the only real thing it has going for it is the cast and a mercifully short run time. And when I say the cast, I’m not including the wife character played by Christina Hendricks. Yes, she is very attractive but that’s all she has going for herself here and that simply isn’t enough. Her character is bland and hollow and much the same as the film itself, flat. I would say see it to experience one of Mr. Hoffman’s last performances before his untimely death but don’t look for anything great here. He’s great, that’s about it. I found myself checking the run time to see how much movie was still left, that’s not a good thing. This had a lot of potential and it did not live up to it.
Rated R For: violence, language throughout and sexual content
Run Time: 88 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro, Eddie Marsan, Richard Jenkins, Christina Hendricks
Directed By: John Slattery
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 2/ Acting: 3.5/ Directing: 3/ Visuals: 1.5
OVERALL: 2.5 Nerdskulls
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