God’s Pocket (2014)

(Video on Demand, January 2015) Even almost a year after his death, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s presence is still deeply felt, and each posthumous film seems to remind everyone of what an interesting screen presence he could have.  In God’s Pocket, he’s about as far from glamour as he could be, playing a down-on-his-luck blue-collar worker you gets entangled in a growing pit of lack luck and even worse circumstances.  It’s far from being a cheerful story, and Hoffman’s hanging-dog charm fits perfectly with the poor-neighborhood setting.  Unfortunately, he’s stuck in a script that doesn’t quite know how to balance the sad drama with the black comedy – at times, God’s Pocket goes from naturalistic social study to jet-black absurdist comedy without graceful transition, or even unity in its presentation.  The very dark ending doesn’t help anything.  Still, John Slattery’s direction isn’t too bad, and Richard Jenkins gets some attention as a journalist who’s ultimately too smart for his own good.  In the end, we just want to get away from the place as quickly as we can.

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