Featuring: Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Nooma Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts
Director: Michaël R. Roskam
Screenwriter: Dennis Lehane
Movie website: www.thedrop-movie.com/
Australian release date: Thu 13 Nov
Verdict: A tough, unsentimental, classy crime drama, featuring a marvellous performance from Tom Hardy, and a fine swansong from James Gandolfini.
At the centre of this well-crafted and superbly performed crime drama is a riveting performance by Tom Hardy as the enigmatic lead character, Bob. Solitary apparently by choice, Bob is lonely nevertheless, but so unused to company at home that he agonises over whether to keep an abused dog he rescues from a rubbish bin. Through the dog, he meets a damaged woman (Nooma Rapace) recovering from a violent relationship. Turns out her sadistic ex (Matthias Schoenaerts) is also the owner of the dog.
Bob works as a bar-tender at a seamy New York backstreet bar run by his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini). Once a local community notable, Marv is in decline, having incurred gambling debts and forfeited ownership of his bar to Chechen mobsters. The joint operates as a pickup point for crims exchanging laundered money.
Bob is a man of few words, especially concerning the criminal milieu in which he works – he sees nuttin’, says nuttin’. However, when the bar is robbed during his shift and the ruthless Chechens demand the return of their money, he finds himself enmeshed in a combustible situation, along with the untrustworthy Marv.
In this murky corner of the New York underworld, Bob stands out as the only character who is not driven by brutish greed and power. As such, he is intriguing, as is his choice to work in a vipers’ pit. We are given no glimpses into his background, no clues as to why he is so taciturn and socially unengaged, but for all his oddness he is given great credibility as a character by Hardy, who somehow manages to convey a sense of depth beneath still waters.
Further, there is a trembling flicker of humanity and sensitivity about Bob, and a tentative but courageous willingness to expose himself to emotional risk that is endearing. The girl and his dog are all that matter to him, having given his life new meaning and purpose. The stakes are as high as can be, then, when both are threatened as criminal elements begin encroaching on his life privately as well as at work.
Hardy could have no finer support than James Gandolfini, who is a perfect fit for the role of Marv. Tough, treacherous, sly and servile when need be, he’s a failed version of Tony Soprano. Gandolfini’s range as an actor was narrow, but no one did these parts better. Sadly, this tough, unsentimental, classy crime drama is Gandolfini’s final film, concluding – in tribute, you’d fancy – with a scene that nods to the final frames of the last episode of The Sopranos.
One of the year’s best.