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Godís Pocket (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 88 minutes.

Not for children.

Veteran actor John Slattery makes his feature film directorial debut impressively by converting Pete Dexterís 1983 novel into a dark, dark film highlighted by wonderful acting by a terrific cast, headlined by Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his last roles.

Sometimes you go to a movie for the story, but occasionally the story takes a back seat to the acting, and thatís what happens here. Along those lines it sort of reminded me of another Hoffman movie, Doubt (2008), in which Hoffman played a priest accused of abusing young children and was joined by a cast that included Amy Adams, Viola Davis, and Meryl Streep, all of whom were at the top of their game. While the story was interesting, what made the movie was the acting.

Thatís what is so compelling about this movie. Mickey Scarpato (Hoffman) is married to Jeannie (Christina Hendricks). Her goofy son, Leon (Caleb Landry Jones, in a terrific performance as a really disturbed young man) is killed. Mickey has to foot the cost of the funeral, but he has lots of problems, not the least of which is raising the cash to pay for it.

The performances are mind-blowing. Richard Jenkins is, as usual, terrific as an alcoholic newspaper columnist, and so is Hendricks as Mickeyís disconsolate wife. But even the bit players stand out. Mickey is involved with lots of real scumbags, and the people playing them all give award-quality performances, even though they are a long way from being stars.

A lot of the credit has to go to Slattery who takes this little story and makes it into a film that never once had me looking at my watch. The people in Godís Pocket live drab lives with almost nothing to look forward to. Ití not a happy story, but the acting is something you wonít soon forget.

April 24, 2014