The Drop (2014)
Directed by Michaël R. Roskam
Produced by Blair Breard, Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, David Greenbaum, Mike Larocca, Chuck Ryant
Cinematography by Nicolas Karakatsanis
Edited by Christopher Tellefsen
Screenplay by Dennis Lehane based on his short story “Animal Rescue”
20th Century Fox DVD – library (1:47)
The Drop barely registered on my radar when it was released in theaters two years ago. I don’t go to theaters much (preferring to watch movies at home) and tend to gravitate towards films made between 1940 and 1980. But my friend Michael Kronenberg recommended this one, and since he was right on target with his recommendation of the Mesrine films, I figured I was in for a pretty good movie. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m stunned that more people don’t talk about this superb crime picture. Not only does The Drop contain James Gandolfini’s last film performance (which is excellent), it also features a bravura performance by Tom Hardy.
Hardy (left) plays Bob Saginowski, a quiet bartender who works for his cousin Marv (Gandolfini), who owns the bar in name only, having relinquished control of it to the Chechen mob who uses the bar as a money drop point. One night walking home, Bob finds an abused and abandoned puppy in a residential garbage can. The owner of the house nearest the garbage can is a woman named Nadia (Noomi Rapace, right) who seems to know more than she’s saying, and not just about the dog.
Bob decides to care for the dog, but problems ensue. A thug named Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts, right) confronts Bob, claiming that the dog is his. Deeds wants $10,000 or he’ll tell the police. Then Marv’s bar is held up by two masked men who make off with thousands in Chechen money. And Marv seems to have a few other things bothering him…
To tell you any more of the plot would ruin the film for you, but by avoiding spoilers, I’m also forced to avoid details of the richness of Bob’s character and the brilliance of Hardy’s performance. This is how characters should written and roles should be performed. The aspects of Bob’s character are delivered so naturally, devoid of any artificiality or pretense and Hardy knows exactly how to make his character come alive. Gandolfini’s performance is also impressive, but we’re so used to seeing him as Tony Soprano and other similar roles that we can easily run the risk of taking him for granted here, which would be a real mistake. It’s a wonderful performance.
In many ways, The Drop – based on Dennis Lehane’s short story “Animal Rescue” – is a small film in that it takes place primarily in a slender part of a Brooklyn neighborhood. It also makes effective use of tight, enclosed spaces, conveying a feeling of claustrophobia, an essential element in the film. Bob is trapped, but he’s trapped in a cage of his own choosing. Or is he?
Explosions and special effects don’t make great films. If you have good writing, good characters and good performances, chances are you’re going to have a good film, maybe a great one. All three of those elements are present in The Drop. Roskam provides us with an amazing look inside these characters. Marv’s life is filled with regret and perhaps Bob’s is, too. Maybe Bob can reverse things slowly; trying to make changes too fast in life can get you killed. If that doesn’t make sense now, it will after you’ve seen the movie. I hope you do. I’m glad I did.
Photos: Vulture, The Drop, Movie Nation, Visual Parables