It’s easy to think there’s a scene missing from this movie.
I like God’s Pocket for many reasons. It’s one of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s final roles, and in every scene you can’t help but think how many great performances he would have given us for years into the future if he hadn’t died. The movie also has the sort of John Turturro performance we’ve come to expect, with the sort of subtle touches that make his characters seem like real people, even when you know in lesser hands they might be caricatures. The movie is also John Slattery’s directorial debut, the actor best known for playing Roger in Mad Men.
The cast, rounded out by Slattery’s Mad Men co-star Christina Hendricks and Academy Award nominee Richard Jenkins, moves through a plot that works so well as several interconnected character studies that the story kind of gets lost. Hoffman’s stepson is killed in a construction site accident, and for reasons that aren’t always clear, everyone wants to keep it covered up, even Hoffman. Jenkins, a local alcoholic celebrity reporter, senses something is up and investigates. Though you forget pretty quickly that’s supposed to be his overall purpose.
The place where it’s easy to think a missing scene should go comes about an hour into the movie. Hoffman is visiting the funeral home of Smilin’ Jack Moran, played by Eddie Marsan, who is brilliant in every role he takes. One minute, they’re sitting down next to the casket, having a beer together.
In the next scene, Hoffman is in an alley in the pouring rain, looking like maybe he’s just been in a fight, and the casket is outside with him. He spends the rest of the movie driving around with the body in the casket of the back of a delivery truck. It’s a major plot point, but not only are we not shown what happened, subsequent scenes don’t provide us with an explanation either.
What’s in that missing scene? It’s the only sticking point in a movie that’s otherwise pretty good.