When I read last year that “Mad Men’s” John Slattery was adapting a Pete Dexter novel that Philip Seymour Hoffman would star in, I became fascinated with the project.
I bought a very used copy of “God’s Pocket,” which is still out of print, that came from a library in New Jersey and I devoured the story, which reads like an especially dark Coen brothers tale.
“God’s Pocket” is about a man in a blue-collar neighborhood of Philadelphia who is dealing with the death of his wife’s psychotic son and a newspaper columnist who is writing about it. Obviously, things go very wrong for everyone throughout the entire book.
The film, which is one of Hoffman’s last movies — until he gets digitally superimposed into the next “Hunger Games” — premiered earlier this year at Sundance. That also happened to be Hoffman’s last public appearance before his death from a heroin overdose in February.
Hoffman said of his character just two weeks before his death, “He’s dealing with issues that have to do with being middle-aged. He realizes that some choices he made along the way, you have to shift or change or you just kind of stay in the dark and go from there.”
The film premiered to mixed reviews but Hoffman as Mickey, the hardscrabble husband to Christina Hendricks’ Jean, is a perfect bit of casting and the handful of “Mad Men” episodes that Slattery has directed have been fantastic, so I have high hopes for this film.
From the trailer, the film looks to be true in plot and style to the fantastic book — and the bar in God’s Pocket looks to be exactly how I pictured it the entire time I was reading it.
“God’s Pocket” opens on video on demand and in select theaters May 9.