** (two stars)
“Mad Men” star John Slattery’s directorial debut, “God’s Pocket,” is an absurdist and often violent dramedy about gritty, booze-sodden people in a tough Philly neighborhood. At its center is Mickey (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a meatpacker with shady methods and, thanks to his buddy Burt (John Turturro), shadier connections. MIckey has to scramble to raise money when his deadbeat son Leon (Caleb Landry Jones) is killed on a job site, and Mickey’s wife Jeannie (Christina Hendricks) wants a nice funeral. Jeannie also wants the truth of how Leon died, so she welcomes the aid of Richard Shelburne (Richard Jenkins), an alcoholic newspaper columnist who quickly becomes infatuated with Jeannie. Slattery, who adapted Pete Dexter’s novel with co-screenwriter Alex Lambert, wants us to treat these broken, hardscrabble folks as working-class heroes. Alas, they come off as caricatures who are less authentic than the people in a Bruce Springsteen song.
-- Sean P. Means
“God’s Pocket” screens again: Saturday at 10 p.m. at Redstone Cinema 2, Park City; Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Salt Lake City; Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the Yarrow Hotel, Park City; and Saturday, Jan. 25., at 11:30 a.m. at The MARC, Park City.