The Drop, 2014.
Directed by Michaël R. Roskam
Starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, Elizabeth Rodriguez, James Frecheville and John Ortiz.
Bob Saginowski finds himself at the centre of a robbery gone awry. As the investigation deepens, horrors and enemies from the past come to the surface.
The Drop opens with a voiceover from Bob Saginowski (Hardy) and his musings on Brooklyn. He describes it as the place “where all the things happen that you’re not allowed to see” and this sets the tone for the entire film.
Adapted from his short story Animal Rescue, novelist Dennis Lehane wrote the screenplay for The Drop and left his beloved Boston behind. The film follows quiet Bob Saginowski played expertly by Tom Hardy and the events that follow a robbery at his Cousin Marv’s bar. This is no ordinary bar; it is what’s known as a Drop bar, where the mob launders all their money on different nights. It is definitely not the kind of place you rob. From here we see a chain of events spiral out of control until the film reaches its climax. This isn’t an action packed mob movie, it’s a slow burner that drip feeds the audience bits of the characters until at the end we finally understand their motivations and who they are.
Leading the film is Tom Hardy as Bob Saginowski. A seemingly awkward loner who starts a tender relationship after happening upon an adorable puppy in pretty waitress Nadia’s (Rapace) garbage cans. There is something chaste and sweet about their relationship and Hardy shuffles and bumbles along as Saginowski. It’s not clear initially if he is simply uncomfortable with people or if there is something darker in his background that’s holding him back. It’s a delight to see the layers of this character unfold throughout the film and it proves that Hardy is one of the most intriguing actors working today. His interactions with the cute puppy Rocco offer some lighter entertainment in a dark world and it shows yet more sides to his character. Who is Bob? Why is he so introverted? Why does he know how to expertly dispose of a severed arm? What happened to him when Cousin Marv ruled the town?
In his final on screen role, James Gandolfini is in familiar territory as former boss Cousin Marv. He is a man who has lost everything to the stronger Chechen mob who took over and humiliated him. In one scene with Bob, Marv talks about how he used to be respected, how no one sat on one particular stool because that was his and that meant something. Bob replies “But it didn’t, it was just a stool”. The Drop is a film about change, about accepting the past and moving forward. Gandolfini is charismatic as ever and you see the pain in his eyes as he sits in his tracksuit in his basement, watching TV and thinking about the good old days. My only gripe would be that he wasn’t in the film enough for me.
Hardy and Gandolfini are the stars of this show but Matthias Schoenaerts gives good support as low life Eric Deeds and his abuse of the puppy Rocco and his control over Nadia is unnerving to watch. Rapace is ok in the role of Nadia but she never convinces and her character development is the weakest in the film.
There are two stories at play throughout the film. You have the robbery story, and you also have the saga with the puppy and a tender love story. They don’t work seamlessly together and at times you wish you could get back to the other story. But there is a clear pay off at the end of this film and when the two stories finally come together, it’s with an outpouring of quick violence and tenderness that isn’t seen too often on screen.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Helen Murdoch is a freelance writer – Follow me on Twitter