(MA15+) Starring: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini
“There are some sins that you commit that you can’t come back from, no matter how hard you try” – Bob Saginowski
This was James Gandolfini’s last film. He portrays Marv, a Brooklyn bar owner who finds himself mixed up in a money laundering racket. Marv’s seedy bar is tended by Bob Saginowski (Hardy). He seems to live a routine life of taking care of customers, reporting to Marv, closing up, and walking home each night. But not all is as it seems; the bar is a front for “money drops” for local gangsters. Also, Bob and Marv are cousins that have their own sordid history that unfolds throughout the film.
Bob has a knack for coming to the aid of anyone or anything that needs his help. The story begins to accelerate when the cousins find themselves at the centre of a robbery gone bad. A police investigation, gangster’s expectations and a dark love story between Bob, Nadia (Noomi Rapace) and a dog named Rocco are some of the things that follow. All together, what seems like a typical, dark Brooklyn tale of woe, turns into a masterfully twisted narrative of intrigue.
Michaël R. Roskam (Bullhead) does brilliant work in directing this perfect cast of actors. The film is a slow-burn drama that twists itself to the point of discomfort. The brilliance of the film comes through the unassuming saviour-like style of Hardy. His performance and the self-effacing backdrop of Brooklyn help the many layers of the seemingly simple story to unfold with depth, as well as deception, manipulation and salvation.
The humble character of Bob is refreshing and unique. Through his care and sacrifice, Bob shows that he is willing to put others needs before his own, even though some of the choices he makes are not comfortable or comforting to all involved. Rapace is perfectly cast as the tough, but fragile Nadia. She adds spark to the love story between Bob and Nadia. As Gandolfini’s last role, it could be debated that he is under-used in a supporting role, but he proves to be a perfect fit for Marv. He brings the toughness of Brooklyn and an understated, vulnerability to his character.
Marv and Bob have to contend with Chechnyan gangsters, psychotic ex-boyfriends and double-crossed thieves. this creates a certain level of violent tension, but the film’s true tension is found within the lives of the central characters.
Putting the violence and the language to the side, The Drop is a well-told story of sacrifice and care for others. Bob is the anti-hero with no sign of arrogance. His quietly heroic position in people’s lives is portrayed effortlessly by Hardy. He conveys the unassuming saviour with a questionable, moral centre. Bob’s humility comes through his willingness to go to extreme measures to care for others.
The Drop is a hidden gem amid 2014’s cinematic landscape, but it does suffer from extreme depictions of violence, language and adult themes. To diminish or eliminate these elements would cause the realism and artistry of the story to suffer, but it should give caution for anyone with a weak constitution. This film is suited for those who will relish in the rawness of the storyline for the sake of artistic style and understand that it is tailored for an adult audience.
What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
- Do rescuers need to make difficult decisions at times? (John 5:30, 2 Peter 3:9)
- What is the value of humility? (James 4:6, Philippians 2:3-11)
- How should we respond to violence? Defined as “physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing”. (Matthew 5:21-22, Psalm 73:6, Proverbs 3:31)
Russell Matthews works for City Bible Forum, and is a regular blogger. You can read his reviews at russellingreviews.blogspot.com.au
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