Say goodbye to Mr. Gandolfini while honoring the performances of Mr. Hardy and Ms. Rapace. It is a must-see film, particularly for dog lovers.
Filled with magnificent, understated performances from Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace, The Drop is a splendid, winsome tribute to the late James Gandolfini. It captures what Mr. Gandolfini did best, namely playing a roguish thug with a bitter sense of humor.
With a screenplay by Dennis Lehane based upon his short story “Animal Rescue”, it tells the tale of a Brooklyn bar robbery gone wrong in every respect. Gandolfini, the prior owner, runs it with his cousin, Mr. Hardy, after his career had started to lose its luster years earlier. The title of the film comes from the fact that local underworld figures, largely Chechnyan immigrants, use the bar as a “drop” for payments from local patrons who never learned that gambling is a losing man’s profession.
As Gandolfini starts to squirm, you are left wondering whether he is a victim or a co-conspirator. Regardless, Gandolfini plays to his strength, and he thankfully makes it easy to forget his miscast performance in the recent Enough Said (2013).
However, the center of the film is found in the relationship developing between Hardy and Ms. Rapace, two loners who meet when Hardy finds a wounded pit bull pup in a garbage can on her property. As these two working class people struggle to find any meaning in life, it is marvelous to watch them interrelate around caring for this little dog.
No actor in recent history can match Mr. Hardy’s exceptional performances in films since 2010. If you doubt it, hunt him down as Tommy Conlin in Warrior (2011); Forrest Bondurant in Lawless (2012); the evil Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and this year’s devastating solo performance in Locke.
Ms. Rapace can nearly match Mr. Hardy, and you movie fans need to see her playing Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series (2009). In addition, don’t miss her contributions in both Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) and Prometheus (2012).
There are other strong performances in this fine film, most notably from John Ortiz and Mathias Schoenaerts. Mr. Ortiz plays a Brooklyn detective who lacks the facts to prove anything while being smart enough to understand everything. Mr. Schoenaerts is the brutal ex-boyfriend of Ms. Rapace. He haunts her life, and he lives on a reputation of having previously killed a young man. You know that with or without the help of the police, a day of reckoning will arrive for everyone by the end of the film.
This movie dances in the same league as Shutter Island (2010), Gone Baby Gone (2007) and Mystic River (2003), all based on Mr. Lehane’s talented pen. There are no good guys, and tension builds throughout the film. When you watch Mr. Gandolfini’s last scene, he has the look of a man facing death with a twinkle in his eye. It’s as if he was saying, “I’ve enjoyed the visit.”