Cousin Marv Plays Host
At the end of the film, I stood up and spotted an oversized cup, presumably containing a coke or other fountain drink, balanced precariously on its cup holder, not in it. I said, “teetering” in a boyishly childish manner, the little things right. But in retrospect “teetering” is quite an accurate description for the film as well. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, especially when it inadvertently serves you the perfect metaphor.
Unlike the film, which was now well into the rolling credits, the drink was yet to reach its climactic finale, coincidentally dropping to the floor and creating an unwelcome mess. But The Drop is anything but messy. Tom Hardy dons his best Brooklyn accent, one only a true Brooklynite could discredit for his latest role as Bob Saginowski, the innocent, religious, hard working bartender who profusely claims that’s all he does, “I tend bar.” It was refreshing to see the gangster/crime genre flipped in terms of the common tropes. Instead of a young and ambitious heir to the territorial throne of a mob kingdom Hardy is reserved and rational. James Gandolfini, famous for sitting atop his ready made Sopranos throne reluctantly caves in to the Chechen Mob’s demands and similarly reluctantly puts down his crown as top don. So we have a rational, smart, mysterious ‘under’ study partnered with a resentful and wary, formerly respected crime boss.
The importance of the eponymous ‘Drop’ is made clear fairly early on. Cousin Marv’s is one of a number of ‘drop’ bars for the Chechen Mob. Set against the backdrop of a Brooklyn winter Cousin Marv and Bob are held at gun point and taken for $5,000. Most film makers would have shaped the rest of the film around Hardy and Gandolfini trying to get the money back. But The Drop is so incredibly contained we barely leave the neighbourhood of Cousin Marv’s, excusing a few car scenes here and there. What we have instead is a meticulous character development story built around a realistically minimalist script excellently crafted to build suspense during character engagements and everything in between. Every silence reveals something new, purposeful in it’s approach The Drop relies heavily on suspense by revealing little until it is ready.
In more ways than one does Cousin Marv play host in this neo noir influenced crime thriller. Firstly, in James Gandolfini’s posthumous role, sadly passing away two weeks after shooting finished, he has a fairly reserved role. Although central to the plot it’s clear that Hardy is the star of the show. Secondly, although I daren’t reveal anything that would detract away from the awesome job Michaël Roskam has done in stringing together the tension from scene to scene Cousin Marv’s bar plays host to the most defining moment of the film that on its own is enough to encourage me to see it again. Interestingly in an article in Total Film Roskam reveals how innocence is a central theme. Each character possesses a past that forces a sense of loss and vulnerability. In his first screenplay Dennis Lehane, also author of the short story ‘Animal Rescue’, on which The Drop is based, adds the masterfully nuanced stroke of the lost and battered pitbull puppy. There is a stand out scene in the film that happens quickly but perfectly frames the theme of innocence when Hardy drops the stereotype that pitbull’s are dangerous. Ostensibly viewed in modern society as a violent dog I was thinking the same thing but this slight script masterfully turns a puppy’s innocence into the focal point of the movie.
I’ve said it before in one of my reviews but just like Ferris Bueller I’ll say it again. The Drop lulls you into a very real sense of security, teetering between character development and plotline it’s undeniably Brilliant and while not necessarily a Must-see in the cinema it is definitely worth a viewing.
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