Belgian director, Michaël R. Roskam, drops us into a world of Chechen gangsters and money laundering with his debut English language film, aptly named The Drop. Bartender Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) works at Cousin Marv’s a local dive bar owned by the Chechens and used as a drop off for ill gotten money. Marv (James Gandolfini) dreams of the days when he was in charge. After a robbery, the two find themselves under the watchful eye of the law and an unstable thug with ties to their past. The film garnered some attention last week, as it was one of the premiere screenings oversold by the TIFF box-office. I was lucky enough to snag a ticket to this dark, gritty, and sometimes surprising film and was not disappointed.
A good director knows how to play to the strengths of their cast, and Roskam allowed his to shine. With a roster like this, Roskam had a nearly endless well of talent to turn to, and while the script is good (although not all that innovative) these talented actors were able to turn it into an interesting study of character and motivation. Each character is nuanced and through the twists and turns, their actions are understandable. Noomi Rapace is able to elevate a potential love interest into a strong, yet vulnerable human being. Matthias Schoenaerts is chilling and unsettling as murder suspect Eric Deeds. And, as always, James Gandolfini is a joy to watch.
For me however, Tom Hardy steals the show as the awkward, soft-talking, dog loving Bob. Hardy has the uncanny ability to bury himself deep in his characters and making each of them into something we haven’t seen before. Bob, the Droopy Dog-esque protagonist, (as described by Hardy) is vulnerable and caring but there’s an underlying vein of danger that’s hard to place and an absolute pleasure to watch.
The dialogue, which could have been clunky and meandering in lesser hands, is endearing and at times laugh out loud funny coming from Roskam’s committed leads, creating some much needed levity and balancing the dark film. Superb acting elevates this film above many of the stale tropes of the genre and the cast is used to their very best. If you have the chance to see this film, it’s well worth it. Plus Tom Hardy spends half the film with a puppy. How can you say no to that?
The Drop had its world premiere on Saturday, Sept. 6th. It also screens on Saturday, Sept. 13th at 3 p.m. at Princess of Wales.