“The Drop”: A Movie Review

The Drop is a great movie, but it is definitely for adults because of subject matter, language, and some violence.  The movie gets its name from the expression “drop bar,” a covert place for funneling cash to local gangsters.  The excellent script was written by mystery novelist Dennis Lehane and the director is the relative-newcomer Michael Roskam (who is Flemish).  The movie is based on Lehane’s short story Animal Rescue.

The plot centers around the life of Bob, a lonely bartender.  Bob is the perfect anti-hero; he’s a slow-of-speech, amoral, asexual, emotionless loner.  His principal interest, outside of his work, is his newly acquired puppy, but at the end Bob seems to be developing a love interest or a least an emotional connection.  Whether intentional or not, The Drop seems very much like a Lehane homage to the french writer and absurdist Albert Camus.  Bob reminds me of the anti-hero in Camus’ The Stranger.

The first hour of the movie is slow and long on character development, perhaps a little too long.  But when the action getting rolling in the second half, things get fascinating.  In fact, the plot twists toward the end, while well done, almost had me laughing.  It turns out our anti-hero is a different person than we think he is.

The acting in the flick is excellent.  Other critics have highlighted the performances of Tom Hardy (who plays Bob) and James Gandolfini (in his last movie role) who plays Bob’s cousin and bar operator.  But Noomi Rapace is also excellent as Bob’s would-be girl friend.  She is emotionally damaged and trying hard to recover.

On a generic basis, author Gillian Flynn objects to the type of female character played by Rapace:

I’m tired of women as the supporting character, women as the helpmate, women as the adorably flawed heroine–she can be front and center, but only if she falls down a lot and has trouble with men.

And the “flawed heroine” role is definitely a important part of the plot for The Drop.  Other than this one possible objection, the movie is first rate.

There is one cinematic trick that I found particularly interesting in the movie:  keeping all or part of the characters at the start of a scene blurred for a second or two before bringing them into focus.  This keeps the viewer briefly guessing about what is really happening.  And it heightens the tension.  The technique was used very effectively in the movie.

If you can handle the grittiness, The Drop is an excellent movie.  One of this year’s best.  It received an 89 percent approval rating on rottentomatoes.com.

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