The Drop
dir Michael R Roskam
scr Dennis Lehane
prd Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Mike Larocca
with Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ann Dowd, John Ortiz, Michael Aronov, Morgan Spector, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Michael Esper, Ross Bickell, James Frecheville
release US 12.Sep.14, UK 14.Nov.14
14/US Fox 1h46
The Drop
Take on the mob: Gandolfini and Hardy

rapace schoenaerts dowd
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Drop A dark dramatic thriller, this film keeps the suspense intimate right to the heart-stopping climactic scene. It's an unusually internalised approach to a crime drama, and it pays off in fine performances from an excellent cast, plus moral dilemmas that properly draw in the audience. In the end, it kind of leaves the viewers in the dust, but it's been a great ride.

In Brooklyn, Bob (Hardy) tends bar at Cousin Marv's, which Marv (Gandolfini) manages for the new owner, Chechen mobster Chovka (Aronov). When the joint is robbed, Chovka demands the lost $5,000, so it's up to Bob and Marv to track down the thieves. Meanwhile, Bob rescues an abused puppy and nurses it back to health with Nadia (Rapace), a neighbour whose menacing ex Eric (Schoenaerts) sadistically stalks Bob, threatening to take both the dog and Nadia. All of this escalates until the night that the bar becomes the drop for the day's mafia takings.

Belgian filmmaker Roskam establishes the seedy atmosphere then quietly starts working on the characters. Lehane's screenplay (based on his short story Animal Rescue) may be packed with the usual crime-world cliches, but these people are all conflicted and reticent, trying to add meaning to lives that they have little control over. In this sense, each character is a dark horse, capable of things no one can imagine. When pushed into a corner they reveal their true colours.

Hardy delivers a likably textured turn as the puppy-like Bob, a man who knows how to keep his head down to throw off the predators. There's more than a hint of the fighter in him, but he knows when to step back. His scenes with Rapace's tough-vulnerable Nadia and Schoenaerts' electrically charged Eric are intense and unpredictable. While the interplay with the terrific Gandolfini gives the film its momentum, revealing both the tight bond and stark differences between them, because Marv isn't so careful about how he deals with the mob.

For a gritty crime drama, the film's moody, witty tone is intriguingly welcoming. Obviously, the quietly gurgling tension has to erupt in the final act, but Roskam avoids the usual big action movie fireworks. By remaining humane and earthy, with violence that's horrible but never blunt, the film makes a thoughtful, understated comment on the small decisions we make that feed into our everyday lives and our ultimate fate.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 10.Oct.14

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Drop Kallie Wilbourn, Las Vegas, New Mexico: 5/5 This film is relentlessly suspenseful and atmospheric, with great performances all round (Rapace's accent slipped at times, but I did not care). All these characters are in the grip of desperate circumstances but Bob is the quiet center, the sleeper. At center of this film is a real moral poser that will haunt the viewer well after the film is over. The tone of this film reminded me of older movie stories like On the Waterfront, but The Drop goes much further into a darker world, where characters are allowed more complexity than in 1950s Hollywood. (03.Mar.16)
© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall