You'll probably recognize God's Pocket as one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's final performances, but that sets up expectations of catharsis few films could satisfy. The scattered charms of this shrugged-up slice of life depend instead on acceptance of tempered ambitions from all involved. Much as Hoffman clearly relishes the boozy anomie of lead stooge Mickey—a luckless butcher nudged toward amateur crime by the funeral expenses of a stepson—there's not much heavy lifting required. Instead, this rambling portrait of wastrels and malcontents in a dingy corner of '80s Philadelphia should be considered the directorial debut of John Slattery. The small-screen vet, best known as Mad Men's silver hound Roger Sterling, borrowed from his day job both a game if miscast Christina Hendricks and an overconfidence in the profundity of tonal vagueness, but he hasn't anywhere near the necessary chops or vision to juggle casual tragedies and macabre humor. God's Pocket is based on Pete Dexter's first novel, and Slattery invests this brutal farce with unearned gravitas, allowing his cast to flesh out characters best left sketched. However impressive the talents on hand (including John Turturro and a scene-stealing Richard Jenkins, steeped to the gills in local color), there's a wearying pointlessness to it all.
Critic's Grade: C
SEE IT: God's Pocket is rated R. It opens Friday at Living Room Theaters.