Film Review: God’s Pocket

God's Pocket

John Slattery’s God’s Pocket is an engaging drama. Its flecks of dark humour are in keeping with the film’s tone.

When Mickey’s stepson dies at work, his troubles begin. With a mourning wife, Mickey also has to contend with a debt he can’t pay, and a body he can’t get rid of…

Based on Peter Dexter’s novel, God’s Pocket is foremost a tale of a blue collar neighbourhood. The film relies on solid writing and well drawn characters to reel viewers in. And for the most part, God’s Pocket is successful in this endeavour.

Main characters in God’s Pocket are well developed. The beauty of the film is that it does not take viewers long to make the measure of them. As the protagonist, Mickey is a convincing outsider in the close-knit community. Moreover, he is well drawn as the down-on-his-luck archetype, whose problems are at least partly self-inflicted.

There are some stereotypes in God’s Pocket, such as Jeanie the unsatisfied housewife or her delinquent son Leon. The veteran newspaper writer Richard Shelburn certainly follows an archetype. Nevertheless, this character brings colour and is entertaining to watch.

The script contains some elements of humour, which are effective despite the sombre setting. The opening sequence works well to immediately give the film shape. The different narrative strands tie in together suitably, whilst still allowing for some colourful characters. The tone of the film is maintained throughout to engulf audiences into the particular environment of the film.

In one of his final role, Philip Seymour Hoffman is as impressive as ever as Mickey. He is ably supported by a very strong cast. Christina Hendricks is well cast as Jeanie, while Richard Jenkins is perfect as Shelburn. John Turturro and Eddie Marsan are great in smaller roles.

God’s Pocket offers great performance and a good screenplay. John Slattery’s directorial debut certainly shows his promise from behind the camera.

Film Review: Fading Gigolo

Fading Gigolo

John Turturro’s Fading Gigolo is a delightfully comfortable comedy. Despite its subject matter, the film has a quaint charm that is difficult to resist.

With his bookshop failing, Murray spies an opportunity in pimping out his friend Fioravante. As Fioravante receives a glowing recommendation from one of Murray’s acquaintances, the bookshop owner starts to look for more clients…

Written, directed by and starring John Turturro, Fading Gigolo is has an undeniable sense of charm. The film has the unmistakable mark of Woody Allen all over it. This is present not least in the performance of the filmmaker himself.

There is something wonderfully nostalgic about the film. It feels as if Fading Gigolo could have been made twenty years ago. The New York setting feels marvellously outdated, shot in warm sepia tones. The choice of soundtrack add to this distinct lack of modernity.

The premise of the film suggests a contemporary film, despite the employed adage of the ‘the oldest profession on Earth’. Fading Gigolo could have easily been a lewd comedy. Yet Turturro choses to eschew this angle, and instead to focus on the characters and a sense of romance. The audience is invited to view very little of what Fioravante does to earn his money, with only the satisfaction of his clients pointing to the fact that he is good and what he does. The film feels more sincere for its focus on dialogue and character development.

Turturro’s script is excellent. Humour is rapid but light; a style which works successfully. Characters are given enough depth to appear realistic, whilst also maintaining the light touch. There are some great exchanges, with a religion-based sequence a highlight.

John Turturro delivers a believable performance as the initially reluctant Fioravante. It is Woody Allen who steals the show, with a quintessential performance which is headily reminiscent of some of his brightest roles. Vanessa Paradis and Liev Schreiber are also good.

Fading Gigolo is a must-see movie for both fans of Woody Allen and decent scriptwriting overall.