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Movie review: The Drop

Roslyn Hull

In the underworld of Brooklyn bars, ‘money drops’ are used to funnel cash to local gangsters. When a robbery at the bar of his employer and cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) goes awry, bartender Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) finds himself entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood’s past where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living—no matter the cost.” ~metacritic

The first few minutes of this film, narrated by its star, Tom Hardy, explain the title and the restricted life of a bartender in a neighbourhood where the mob, and not the police, rule. This voiceover sets the tone for the whole movie. It is nihilistic, ever so slightly self-deprecating, sincere and blunt.

Like Bob.

Once the story starts though there is a constantly present threat, vague but unavoidable, coupled with a sense of desperation and decay.

Like Marv.

This is James Gandolfini’s final film and he will be sorely missed. Even though he made a career out of playing Italian/American gangsters he managed to find something new, some special nuance in every role he tackled – from The Sopranos to the gay kidnapper in The Mexican. He is spot-on as Marv and I found his final moments in the movie very poignant.

The story is based on one written by Dennis Lehane (author of Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River and Shutter Island – all excellent movies) who is not just a writer but also a university lecturer on how to write. At Harvard no less. His work is quintessentially American but explores the seedier aspects of right and wrong, good vs. evil.

If you have heard anything about this film you’ll know there is a dog. No, it doesn’t die.

However it does fundamentally change Bob’s life by being the catalyst for his shy, hesitant relationship with Nadia (Noomi Rapace in a strong role). She and her on/off abusive boyfriend Deeds (Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts) are the only other ‘major’ characters. There is a police detective who is important and the gangsters of course but the film belongs to Tom Hardy. He is its beating heart and all action is set to the pace of his life.

Although ‘action’ is a strong word. This is not an action film – it is almost an anti-action film. If it sits anywhere in the genre it sits somewhere near the pace of True Detective. But the plot is not so utterly devastating as that series. This film is slow but captivating. It almost feels like a thoughtful reply to the many bullets and blood gangster movies Hollywood has produced since movies began.

Whilst still a work of fiction and therefore a heightened version of reality, I felt it was probably closer to the truth of the sort of neighbourhood depicted than most.

It is about men who take and those who should know better than to stand in their way. However it is also about decency and personal moral compasses, what can and cannot be tolerated.

I enjoyed it and my attention did not waver for a moment. I was utterly focused on the story and the characters. How good is that?

The author saw this film as a guest of Dendy cinemas.

 

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Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author

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