Actors: James Gandolfini, Tom Hardy, John Ortiz, Matthias Schoenaerts
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English (DTS 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Japanese
Dubbed: French, Spanish
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: January 20, 2015
Run Time: 107 minutes
Based on the short story by Dennis Lehane, The Drop is a film with themes better understood with the knowledge of the story’s original title, “Animal Rescue.” Though there is an abused dog found abandoned within the narrative, this is a film better appreciated with the understanding that this is not the only animal within the story in need of rescue. It is the subtle nuances in themes and metaphor’s such as this within the sophomore feature from Belgian filmmaker Michaël R. Roskam which make him a subtle talent not to be dismissed, and this is only enhanced by the spectacular performances given by the three leads.
This cast is headed up by Tom Hardy in the role of Bob Saginowski, further solidifying his place among this generation’s greatest talents. Here he is a
bartender whose unassuming demeanor and oddly optimistic attitude make him a
rare creature amongst the hardened and cynical people he encounters in the
slightly seedy underworld of a mob-controlled bar. In some ways he seems to be
embodying the persona created by Stallone for Rocky, especially paired against the cynicism of his boss, Cousin
Marv (James Gandolfini, in a worthwhile final performance). Having had a rough
path in the criminal underworld, Marv is left bitterly tending his sad little
bar, with only Bob’s cheerful chatter to contradict the sullen atmosphere.
The other person whose demeanor establishes the otherwise cold nature of the setting is a local neighbor named Nadia (Noomi Rapace), who Bob encounters when he discovers a badly-beaten dog abandoned in her trash can. This begins a courtship of sorts between the two, though neither are completely adept at human interaction, making it somewhat of a lengthy process. It is these naturalistic performances paired with the witty, and surprisingly humorous, screenplay adapted by Lehane himself which makes The Drop such a treat for intelligent filmgoers. If you are looking for exciting action, there are plenty of blockbusters offering just that, but this film somehow manages to be even more engaging by simply using great words spoken by talented actors.
The plot is purposefully simplistic, permitting the film to instead put the focus on the characters. It is one of those rare crime films that allows the action to be driven by the characters, rather than letting spectacle take the reigns at the detriment to believable human beings. Following his Academy Award-nominated debut feature (Bullhead), this seems to be a common narrative choice of the filmmaker, whose early films address ideas similar to those Martin Scorsese tackled early in his career, but with a unique intellectual restraint usually only found in far more seasoned directors. There are many themes addressing the propensity for violence in men, whether for feelings of power of the mere desire for wealth. This film makes an excellent comparison piece to Bullhead, but also has me even more excited to see what Roskam will bring us next.
The Blu-ray release includes a commentary track with Roskam and Lehane, as well as a making-of featurette with more footage and interviews of both talented contributors. The extras also include a handful of deleted scenes, and a handful of featurettes about the locations, acting, and some of the performers. This mostly just includes the departed Gandolfini, though there is also a featurette dedicated to the dog performer, Rocco.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 9/10
Historical Significance: 8/10
Special Features: 8/10