Out Now – 14th November 2014

Life Itself

Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?!
The horrendous Nativity series is now officially a trilogy. What next for this Coventry-based Christmas caper? I cannot bring myself to even imagine what the plot might be. Bonus points to the writers for referencing a popular film from over a decade ago in the title.

The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch is great as Alan Turing in a film that brings his story to the big screen but doesn’t quite do it justice. I kinda liked it.

The Drop
Another good but not great film in the form of a thriller starring Tom Hardy as a bartender embroiled in gang business. I saw it, enjoyed it, and have no reason to see it again.

Redirected
Action comedy starring Vinnie Jones about four criminals who end up in Eastern Europe having all manner of 18 certificate mishaps. I haven’t seen Vinnie Jones in a European romp since the golden days of Euro Trip.

Life Itself
Documentary exploring the life, career, and sad passing of the world’s most popular film critic Roger Ebert. Lots of good reviews from critics hoping that one day a film this good is made about them too.

Third Person
An impressive looking cast star in a series of intertwining stories about love set across the globe. Writer/director Paul Haggis has won many Oscars but this film has a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 24%. When you remember that one of his Oscars was for Crash suddenly the quality of Third Person isn’t such a surprise.

Diplomacy
“A historical drama that depicts the relationship between Dietrich von Choltitz, the German military governor of occupied Paris, and Swedish consul-general Raoul Nordling.” This week is a very strange week at the cinema.

We Are the Giant
“Since late 2010, more than a dozen nations have experienced popular uprisings that have collectively been called the Arab Spring. Protests, buoyed by predominantly young participants and social-media organizing, have exposed repression and led to regime changes. What does it mean to take part in a collective action that has the potential to unseat dictators and bring previously undreamed-of freedoms to a people?” If nothing else this week has plenty of films that defy me trying to simplify their narratives.

The Drop – LFF Review

The Drop

Tom Hardy loves a good accent and in The Drop he wraps his mouth around Brooklyn as he tackles the role of bartender Bob. Bob works at a bar previously owned by his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) straightforwardly named Cousin Marv’s. Life is mostly quiet apart from when the bar’s new owners, Chechen gangsters, stop by and use it as a money drop. One winter Bob finds life getting a little more complicated than the norm after Marv’s is held up, the Chechen’s demand their stolen money be found and the culprits brought to justice, and Bob finds himself adopting a dog found in the bins of the mysterious Nadia (Noomi Rapace) for plot advancing reasons.

Unfortunately for Bob Nadia’s ex-boyfriend, and the dog’s former owner, turns out to be an infamous tough guy and possible murderer Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts). Making Bob’s life a little more complicated, and this synopsis more convoluted than I’d like, he attends the same daily mass as Detective Torres (John Ortiz) who just so happens to be investigating the bar’s robbery and various other seedy goings on.

As is typical for a thriller nobody’s motives or allegiances can be trusted. Bob is a strong-looking but sweet guy surrounded by suspicious folk. The bar he works at is run by gangsters, his cousin Marv appears to be involved in something sketchy, his new girlfriend has a dark past, a member of his church is suspicious of him, and finally Deeds is actually making unambiguous threats against Bob and his suspicious network. With all this we have a tricky plot set in motion. As various nefarious types scheme against one another it remains to be seen who will end up on top and who was really playing who.

The Drop 2

At the centre of The Drop is another fine performance from Tom Hardy. Despite at first glance looking like just another leading man Hardy has continuously proved himself to be one of the more diverse character actors working today. Rather than repeat a performance in multiple films Hardy prefers to change his physicality and voice to suit each role he takes on. In The Drop he has successfully mastered the Brooklyn accent, to these British ears at least, and adopted a slow and strong style of movement that reflects the gentle giant that is Bob. As cousin Marv James Gandolfini makes his final appearance on-screen. While his performance is solid we aren’t treated to anything we haven’t already seen as his swan song requires a simple Sopranos-lite presentation. Noomi Rapace meanwhile is surprisingly American and sufficiently ambiguous in her mostly thankless role of love interest turned damsel in distress.

Director Michaël R. Roskam has put together an attractive film and brought out assured interpretations from his cast but the script offers nothing too spectacular. Dennis Lehane has adapted his own short story into the screenplay and the result is a perfectly fine if unremarkable thriller. There is tension and confusion for the majority of the film followed by a twist and resolution at its conclusion. There is absolutely nothing wrong with The Drop and its classic thriller style but it offers nothing new and as such fails to stand out.

The Drop is a perfectly enjoyable crime drama set in the murkier neighbourhoods of Brooklyn. Should you choose to see it I have no doubt that you will have a good time but you are unlikely to be chatting about the film for long after leaving the cinema and a rewatch simply feels unnecessary. Good but not great, and certainly not bad.

The Drop has a UK release date of 14th November 2014.

BFI LFF 2014