The Drop (2014)

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Directed by: Michaël R. Roskam

In years gone by this kind of movie would’ve been populated by the cream of America’s acting crop. When looking at the main cast of ‘The Drop’ I wonder as a general point – Have American actors given up on movies? Preferring instead to start in epic long running TV shows, or is there a dearth of home grown American talent out there? Aside from the late James Gandolfini (in this, his last onscreen role) the main cast is made up of an Englishman doing a convincing Brooklyn accent, a Swede and a Belgian.

Adapted from a short story by Dennis Lehane, ‘The Drop’ is situated around a blue-collar bar called Cousin Marv’s, named after Marv (Gandolfini), who works with his loyal, innocuous bartender named Bob (Tom Hardy). During the night criminals frequently launder money through the bar. The bar is run by Chechen gangsters who get awfully pissed off when two masked men rob the place.

Before this happens Bob walks home one night when he suddenly hears a whimpering noise coming from a trash can. He opens the lid of the trashcan and finds an injured pitbull puppy. The commotion wakes up a woman named Nadia (Noomi Rapace), and she helps Bob tends to the dog’s wounds. A strange man lurks in the shadows.

What follows is a slow moving drama, the owner of the dog, a twitchy tough guy named Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts) shows up and tries to extort money from Bob. Bob bonds with the dog, names it Rocco and grows closer to Nadia. Eric has connections to Nadia and inevitably the film concludes with a violent confrontation between Bob and Eric.

Marv becomes shadier, and his relationship with Bob begins to become untethered. Gandolfini is gruff, paranoid and seems like a man who is conscious his time is coming to an end. It is eerie that this is Gandolfini’s last role, because at times Marv comes across as a dead man walking. Gandolfini plays Marv as a tough guy who is particularly vulnerable. It’s a fine performance, and a solid note to end a career on.

In a few years’ time film studies students will write about the minimalist performances of Tom Hardy. They’ll look at Hardy’s performance in this movie, and also his role in ‘Locke’ and consider how much he can do in a claustrophobic film setting. Hardy is on form here, he shows that less is more. Not many actors can really convey the quiet guy all that well but Hardy once again shines.

An honorable mention has got to go to the pit-bull puppy. Who’d have thought pit-bull’s could be so damn adorable. Half of the time I was cooing over the cuteness of the puppy. It seems a daft note to end on but I’m no Wesley Morris.

– RJW

7/10

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