seen @ Kew Gardens Cinemas, Kew Gardens, Queens, NY
This post on the movie The Drop goes out to my pal Page, who, as I discovered last week, is a big Tom Hardy fan.
"Hooooow biiiiig IS she?"
She's such a big Tom Hardy fan she sat through This Means War. The movie that made him swear off rom-coms forever. And can you blame him?
Anyway, Page compared him to Paul Newman. She saw Locke earlier this year - really wish I saw that one - but she says it was boring. Also, she wants the world to know that Lawless is an outstanding film and that everyone should see it, and that she would never, EVER, compare anyone to someone like Newman without checking out their body
Prior to this, I must admit, Hardy's presence in this movie didn't register with me at all. My interest in The Drop came down to two words: Dennis Lehane. He wrote the screenplay, based on one of his own short stories. Where would I rank this among the other Lehane adaptations? Better than Shutter Island, about equal with Gone Baby Gone, and a tad below Mystic River, I think. Moving the story from Lehane's beloved Bah-ston to the mean streets of Brooklyn seems slightly sacriligious, but it works. There's a generic look to the Brooklyn of The Drop; it's blessedly free of hipsters, but it's also without much in the way of familiar landmarks, kind of like the fictitious neighborhood of Mystic River.
As for Hardy, he comes off quite well here, Brooklyn accent and all. His character is a bartender in a bar owned by James Gandolfini but in reality, it's owned by local mobsters, who use it as a "drop" to stash their ill-gotten filthy lucre. When the bar gets held up one night, the mobsters demand their money back, but it turns out there's more to the robbery - and the robbers - than meets the eye. Also, Hardy finds an abused dog in the trash can of Noomi Rapace and she helps him care for it, until its previous owner turns up wanting it back, and he's not exactly nice about it.
Hardy has developed a rep as a hard man in his movies, but here he's cast against type. His character Bob comes across as "nicer" than his other roles, partially because of his scenes with the dog, but his association with Gandolfini's character gives him an edge. He's part of this environment of underworld types but denies being part of it as well. He comes across as guileless - he lets a shady-looking, vaguely threatening stranger who may be following him enter his home just so the man can get out of the cold - yet the sight of a severed limb doesn't rattle him in the slightest, as if it wasn't the first time he's seen such a thing. There's little physical violence in this movie, but when it comes, it comes with a shot to the solar plexus, and Hardy gets his moment in the climax.
James Gandolfini. I never really appreciated him, and now he's gone. I remember watching episodes of The Sopranos during my video store days, but watching it in the store, I rarely got a true feel for how good he was in that show. Last year, of course, I saw him in the sublime rom-com Enough Said and found him remarkable, in a role heavily against type. Here, he's doing another riff on Tony Soprano, but he's so good at it. His death reminds me of how sad I was when JT Walsh died: a brilliant character actor with depths that rarely got explored, but when he was in a movie, he made his presence felt in a big way. Walsh, however, never had a TV show as popular or as long-lasting as The Sopranos, though.
So, Page, I think you'll like this movie a lot, especially if you think of it as a film noir, and your man Hardy is definitely worth the price of admission - but geez, the next time you wanna see him in a movie like This Means War, stop and think first!