Reviewed by Daniel Janks: actor, creative director, writer, cynic, father, husband. He was born in 1977 and has still not died. He loves many things, chief among which are his mythic wife and odd girl-child. Visit his website.
Director Michaël R. Roskam
Writer Dennis Lehane
Cast Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini
AGE RESTRICTION: [R]
There is much to keep the kiddies away. This is a slow paced, suspenseful, thriller with more than it’s fair share of gore, be it ever so subtle and understated.
It isn’t often I give a film 5/5/. It requires a special mixture of style, panache, deep integrity, subtle grandeur and the ability to utterly enthral me. The Drop knocks it out of the park in every way.
Bob is a quiet, gentle and unassuming bar tender at Cousin Marv’s Bar. But there’s a wrinkle in the soft simple life he leads. Cousin Marv’s is a drop bar. A repository for weekly book takings for the local Chechen mob. When the bar is robbed Bob and Cousin Marv are caught up in a bad situation which is worsened when Bob rescues a badly beaten puppy from a woman’s trash can and he and her set about nursing the pup back to life. Between the mad bloodthirsty mobsters and the dog’s chilling owner there’s danger in every corner. And I do mean EVERY corner.
Well it’s simply sublime. There are different kinds of amazing performances. There are the Russel Crowe Gladiator performances with grand gesturing and heart-on-your-sleeve emotional super-text. Something akin to theatre in its far from subtle posturing and conflict. Then there’s your Tom Hanks Cast Away performances that embody at once both a very moving authenticity and a larger than life, highly performative quality. Lastly there’s the Paul Newman The Verdict kind of performance that is delivered so subtly, so delicately and with such exquisite calm that it near blows the back of your head off and you try insanely to swim down into it until you are immersed in it wholly. All are awesome, in my opinion only one is rare and precious.
It is this kind of rare, precious infinitely subtle but magnificently powerful performance that Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini and Matthias Schoenaerts deliver in The Drop. Hardy’s Bob is enthralling in his simplicity and seeming innocence. Gandolfini’s Cousin Bob simmers with danger and disaster and Schoenaerts’ Eric Deeds is one of the scariest characters I’ve ever seen on screen. Their true natures, when revealed are bone chilling and moving.
Directing and writing
This is director Michaël R. Roskams second feature film. It seems surprising that such a seemingly inexperienced director could produce such a magnificent film, but perhaps not so much when we remember that his film, the Danish film Bullhead (starring Matthias Schoenaerts) was nominated for a best foreign film oscar in 2011.
The Drop is exquisitely directed. In a similar vein to the styling of the lead performances the directing is subtle and understated. There’s no flashy cinematography, no stylish jump cuts or edgy editing. This is quiet excellence. The film oozes across the screen. Advancing on you like a lava flow, slow and inexorable. Unstoppable. At times the plot is slow, but it is never stagnant and always the soft sense of dread and foreboding is being built beneath the plot. When that bubble bursts it does so implosivley and with echoing effect.
This as much due to the writing as it is the directing. Dennis Lehane, long one of my favourite authors turns his hand to feature screenwriting for the first time. He’s had a number of novels adapted for film including Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island, and he’s penned some episode scripts for shows like The Wire and Boardwalk Empire, but The Drop is his first full length screenplay. Adapted from one of his own short stories the script is brilliant. Embodying his unique, soft spoken authenticity and his unerring ability to sew suspense and danger into the normal and innocent.
Hell, I gave it 5/5. I think it’s near perfect. Go see it. Just go.