Painfully self-indulgent on all fronts. A still-born feature film debut, for MAD MEN regular John Slattery who co-scripts, co-produces (one of 20!) & megs a downbeat Peter Dexter novel, pushing its tone toward mordant Elmore Leonard vaudeville & violence as a murder cover-up implodes among small-stakes low-life thugs in the unwelcoming town of God’s Pocket thirty years back. Pulling in every favor from what must be a considerable Rolodex, Slattery does land an impressive sounding cast. Philip Seymour Hoffman (a physical wreck in one of his last roles), trying to raise cash for his step-son’s funeral and landing in financial quicksand. Mourning mom, Christina Hendricks, screwing alcoholic columnist Richard Jenkins hoping he’ll investigate. John Turturro & tough mom Joyce Van Patten, who split a refrigerated warehouse as meat & flower butchers, trying to raise enough cash to pay off their own mob debts as well as Hoffman’s to rapacious mortician Eddie Marsan. And that’s just the half of it. It’s one of those films where everyone’s a character, but first an actor; with Slattery encouraging bad instincts & overripe eccentricities until they all cancel each other out. Method Acting Workshop stuff that’s only missing peer applause & brutally honest critiques coming from the sidelines.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Hoffman may have been in rotten shape, but could still deliver the goods as seen in his next/last film A MOST WANTED MAN/’14. OR: See him work this territory to better effect in Sidney Lumet’s last film BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD/’07. (See both below.)