Movie review: God’s Pocket (2014)

Based on a novel of the same name, God’s Pocket refers to a neighborhood in Philadelphia—a gritty neighborhood full of people that a small time newspaper columnist refers to as ignorant with unclean faces.

God’s Pocket uses the death and funeral of a twenty-something day laborer to explore the culture and relationships of the neighborhood—people who lie and cheat but have a certain kind of loyalty to other God’s pocket residents.

The residents are a motley crew. The newspaper columnist seduces Hoffman’s wife and then shows up at the neighborhood bar. The mortician throws the corpse of Hoffman’s stepson in a back alley because Hoffman couldn’t pay for the funeral but then proceeds with the funeral (and getting the body from the morgue a second time) after Hoffman produces some cash. The bartender welcomes the newspaper columnist at the bar but then turns on him for not being from there.

God’s Pocket is part crime story and part dark comedy. The grieving mother is convinced for some unknown reason that her son did not die the way it was reported. She pushes police to investigate more. She pushes her husband to find out more. Her husband pushes mobsters to find out more.

Absurd situations follow. A low-level mobster’s mother shoots and kills mobsters coming for her son, instructing him to stay out of it and change his pants—they have blood on them. Mick chases his refrigerated truck down the road only to fall in the middle of the road…and watch the slabs of meat plus the corpse of his dead stepson litter the road after the truck is hit. Or the mobster’s mother teaching her mobster son how to shoot.

As usual, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance is spot on. Other performances are equally good. None is a character that one could sympathize with. Most are loathsome for one reason or another. All are leading hard lives in God’s pocket—where even the dead die twice.

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