Saturday, 10 January 2015

Film Review: The Drop

A drop bar, as Tom Hardy's Bob Saginowski in a rather excellent Brooklyn accent explains to us, is a place gangsters and criminals drop money off to hide from the law. One of these drop bars is Cousin Marv's, a working man's bar run by James Gandolfini's Marv. This is where Bob works, keeping quiet, tending bar and handling all of Brooklyn's dirty money but when one night, two men brandishing shotguns walk in demanding all the money things start to turn bad to worse for Marv and Bob, as the Chechen gang who now run the bar start demanding their stolen money back. As if this isn't enough trouble already, Bob starts a friendship with Noomi Rapace's Nadia after finding an abused puppy in her bin. This soon leads to Nadia's pshyotic, unhinged ex, Eric, lurking around Bob's house demanding he returns his dog, which he left in the bin back to him

The script is adapted by Gone Baby Gone writer, Dennis Lehane. who adapts his own short story, Animal Rescue. Lehane beefs up the script adding in much needed subplots. But Lehane's script weaves in and out of the adjacent storylines but never gets lost or tied up.  Instead, the film slowly pieces together to a slow burning conclusion that may burn the emotional bridge Lehane and Belgian director, Michael R. Roskam, builds between Hardy's dog loving Bob and the audience. 

The three central roles are what anchor the film. Tom Hardy continues his streak of strong, silent male figures who encapsulates a Brandoesque sense of brooding. Gandolfini, in his last role before his death, is well prepared for the role. While it is nothing new from the actor who played Tony Soprano eight years, Gandolfini brings his all to the role of a washed up gangster who was once feared but now has to tow the line. Rapace works well with what she is given but does fall foul to existing in a patriarchal microcosm, a world where men battle it out for alpha male status. We are given a small glimpse into her past through three scars on her neck, a gruesome act of violence she performed on herself while high but the film doesn't plumb the depths of her dark past. Roskam regular Matthais Schoenaerts, stars as Rapace's unbalanced ex Eric, and holds his own against Hardy's bulking, brooding bartender.      

Roskam's film hardly reinvents the wheel, clinging onto many of the typical neo-noir tropes of the genre but it effortlessly blends these with a subtleness that oozes something European, no surprise coming from the director of Bullhead. It is in this blend that makes The Drop stand out against it's mob peers. 


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