OFTEN in films we are given a privileged point of view, let into
a secret long before anyone on screen is. But sometimes, as
in The Drop (Cert. 15), we are excluded from the
information necessary to work it out.
Bob, a Brooklyn barman, is possibly somewhere on the autism
spectrum, and is just a bit slow on picking up social clues,
perhaps. He is played by the English actor Tom Hardy in an accent
at times nearly impenetrable.
Bob works for his cousin Marv - James Gandolfini (The
Sopranos) in his final screen role - although it isn't now a
family business. The bar is now owned by Chechen gangsters, who are
using it as place to drop off money in need of laundering. Bob
keeps his head down. He goes to work, goes home, and goes to mass,
it would appear, daily. That's about it, except that he never makes
his communion. Why?
Bob's set routines are disrupted when one night he finds among
some rubbish a badly beaten puppy. The bin belongs to Nadia (played
by Noomi Rapace, The Girl in the original Swedish films of Stieg
Larsson's trilogy), who helps him to take care of it. From thereon,
Bob enters a world that he knows little of, and that he seems
ill-equipped to deal with. The dog's owner (a disturbing Matthias
Schoenaerts), or so he says, violently threatens Bob and the dog
unless his extortionate demands are met. Marv, meanwhile, is not
that cleverly trying to outwit his shady bosses, and ends up being
investigated by the police.
Detective Torres (John Ortiz) turns out to be someone we have
already seen at Bob's Roman Catholic church. Torres asks him why he
never receives the Blessed Sacrament, but fails to get a
satisfactory response. The church, rather like Bob's forlorn
existence, is lacking in friends to the point where it is going to
be converted into, as Marv puts it, "condos with stained-glass
windows". The viewer senses that Bob and his church are on the
verge of extinction. Their inherent goodness and trust in old
certainties seem to be out of time with the grimness surrounding
Gandolfini expresses the general state of things in another
superbly delivered line: "We're dead already . . . just still
The film is a partnership between the Belgian director Michaël
Roskam (Bullhead) and the writer Dennis Lehane (Mystic
River) - a marriage made in heaven, you might say. They bring
to the piece a strong feeling of how mortal sins shape our universe
and affect subsequent moral choices. The Catholicism of The
Drop permeates the film, redeeming misspent moments past,
often through crucial decisions that, strangely, don't appear to be
the result of agonised soul-searching. Why should they be, when the
world that these characters inhabit is so black-and-white?
Simplistic they may be for those who have the luxury of being
able to afford prescribed morals. But, as the detective intimates
to Bob, those caught up in life-and-death situations know more than
they can tell. Bob's faith is simple, not given to words, only
actions - doing some things but refraining from others, such not as
making his communion. It fits.
On current release.