Nefarious Dealings In Boston Abound In This Thoroughly Engaging Slow Burn Of A Thriller. Hardy, Rapace, Schoenaerts & The Late (Great) Gandolfini All Turn In Top Notch Performances.
Originally titled Animal Rescue and adapted by Denis LeHane from his short story of the same name, The Drop is director Michael Roskam’s first english language feature after his wholly impressive 2nd film, the oscar nominated Belgian film Bullhead. Paralleling in many ways with interpretations on masculinity, crime and personal responsibility, Roskam certainly handles the material here with deft precision and delivers a wholly engaging small scale thriller.
The Drop centres around Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy), a bartender at a local joint in Boston that his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) runs. The bar is owed by the Russian mafia and when it is robbed by a pair of local goons whilst Bob & Marv are on shift, Bob gets pressure from both the Mob and Police to find the thieves and the missing loot. Into the mix comes Rocco, a pitbull pup that Bob finds howling in a garbage bin on his way home from work which, in turn, sees him introduced to a hyper paranoid Nadia (Noomi Rapace) and her not-all-there ex boyfriend Eric (Matthias Schoenaerts). As Bob’s affections for Rocco grow, as does his friendship with Nadia, things get all very skewed when all their worlds start to collide.
Much like Lehane’s Boston crime thriller hit Mystic River, The Drop is completely driven by the believability and intensity of the characters in play. Tom Hardy just goes from strength to strength turning in another sensational turn as Bob, a joe-everyman whose physical presence is just as commanding on screen as his disarming demeanour is. Bob’s just trying to make his way through his modest life the best way he knows how and it’s this simplicity that warms us to Hardy’s Bob. (And, let’s be honest, he’s not hard on the eye either) Noomi Rapace’s Nadia is just as potent as a damaged woman rebuilding her life alongside a maniacally unstable Matthias Shoenaerts as Eric whose volatility could explode at any second. The late, great James Gandolfini’s Marv, a man who faces his own failures every day, is as dynamic and full of pathos as you’d expect from the celebrated character actor. All the central players are top notch and each have substantial characters to play with thanks to LeHane’s taut screenplay.
(Let’s also not forget Rocco, the gorgeous Pitbull puppy. He’s ace)
All credit must be paid to Roskam, whose steady directorial hand keeps The Drop moving at a pace that slowly ratchets up the tension and never gets bogged down in superfluous sub plotting. There’s plenty going on inside The Drop and Roskam, working with long time collaborator cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis, make suburban Boston just as much a cold and suffocating character as the people in play. The film feels cold and a sense of inescapability permeates the surrounds. Roskam knows the beats the story needs, the looks it requires and the feel it needs to resonate with the audience and he nails it here.
The Drop is a small suburban thriller that’s big on intensity, engagement and character. It’s as solid as Mystic River and showcases a wall of performances that keep you hooked throughout its 106 minutes. A winner.
THE DROP releases Thursday NOVEMBER 13, 2014 in AUSTRALIA through 20TH CENTURY FOX