May 16, 2014 at 1:00 am

Tom Long

Review: 'God's Pocket' is a scattered story about the neighborhood

The late Philip Seymour Hoffman, left, plays a low level thief and Eddie Marsan is a funeral director in the drama 'God's Pocket.' (IFC Films)

“God’s Pocket” is one of those portrait-of-a-neighborhood films, the kind of thing Martin Scorsese did with “Mean Streets.” Accents, attitude and a bit of plot, only this time the city is Philadelphia instead of New York.

The accents and attitude are fine, but the plot here gets scattered. Directed and co-written by “Mad Men” star John Slattery, and based on a novel by Pete Dexter, the story gets stretched every which way, including some wrong.

Luckily the acting talent is formidable. In one of his last performances, Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Mickey Scarpato, a low level thief and hustler married to the startling Jeanie (Christina Hendricks in full vavoom mode).

As the film begins, Jeanie’s obnoxious son (a notably revolting Caleb Landry Jones) by a previous husband is killed at a work site. This means Mickey has to come up with five grand for the kid’s funeral.

He turns to his buddy Bird (John Turturro) and the gang at the local bar all pitch in some, but he’s still far short of what he needs to pay funeral director Smilin’ Jack Moran (Eddie Marsan).

Meanwhile, an alcoholic newspaper columnist (is there any other kind?) played by Richard Jenkins starts looking into the kid’s death. What’s he’s really looking into is Jeannie, but she suspects foul play, so he goes along.

From here the movie veers all over, going from black comedy to modern tragedy and spicing things up with sudden bursts of bloody violence. Everybody’s a bit pathetic, nobody’s particularly happy, but it’s the neighborhood — you get by.

Except when you don’t. After turning too abruptly ugly at the end, “God’s Pocket” decides to get out of Philly. Turns out accents and attitude only go so far.

'God's Pocket'


Rated R for violence, language throughout and sexual content

Running time: 88 minutes

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