God’s Pocket Movie

October 26, 2016

Shall the meek inherit the Earth? There is a very complicated relationship between Hollywood and the poor. Very rarely, however, do we see an examination of American poverty as-is, not so much celebrating as portraying its very character. And what is firstly in this regard? Desperation. This does not eschew reality. The waking characteristic of poverty, and what imbues such pain and toil and grief among the poor in America despite being awash in abundance is the unavoidable unease of living untenably. What I mean is, there is no comfort from the security that exists with stability and a consistent steady-stream of cash flow and surplus income from the social classes above the ground floor.

And yet, despite the overt apologetics Hollywood more than ever has toward the quote oppressed and quote social justice, it cannot help, in an effort to portray a social reality, have the narrative resemble the facts of an additional characteristic of poverty. And that is horrendously poor, self-destructively capricious decisions. Alcohol is just an ingredient in the pot, and not the main matter that makes up the stew. We see, repeatedly, just plain and utter stupidity by any other name. In fact, the entire drama revolves around this governing truth. “God’s Pocket” is a carousel of imbeciles. Yet the Christian would beseech some tolerance of those just trying to get by. Their souls, contends the poet of such disarray – an alcoholic journalist that gets off provoking infidelity- are pristine. God does not forsake them, for he has no need to; they’ve already done it themselves.

The cavalcade of deplorableness around this fulcrum is at times preposterous. The bold jabs which make up the necessity of the plot points are too much to be believable. True tragedy from misery arises when the drama does not reveal itself so nakedly to be clockwork; that all the elements are so inter-dependent with one another that it constricts the possibilities of contingency. Tragedy is at its richest when the sequences of misfortune are not downpours, but plausibly unintended and indeed interruptive to normalcy. Betting one’s life savings so abruptly on a horse, as the protagonist does, is not tragic; it is mechanically artificial to move the plot forward. For how does such a man, committed to such capricious foolishness, amass $45,000 in the first place? We can grant the quote damnation of the poor because of their repeated offenses at behaving in a bourgeois manner; of, ultimately, self-restraint. That he would not learn his lessons with respect to gambling. But certainly, he would have some memory of the pain of squalor and not bet the farm. Especially at a moment when his wife’s son needs a funeral!

Of course it is a mistake to label this film a tragedy. It is more a black comedy, but ultimately just a rouse. An exercise in filmmaking, but not one of quality.

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