Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Drop: James Gandolfini goes out on a high note

All my ribbing on Bubba Rogowski to one side, I’m a fan of Denis Lehane. I’ve read most of his books, and still consider the early Kenzie and Gennaro books to be rock solid modern noir. And his stuff adapts well to the screen. So the thought of a movie with James Gandolfini and a script based on a Lehane short story; this seemed like a good idea to me.

More movies ought to be made out of short stories; a long short or a novella has just about the right amount of stuff in it for a movie, where most novels are too long and have to get hacked to ribbons to fit on a screen. 

I don’t know how faithful The Drop is to the underlying text, but it works pretty well as a short movie; you have enough time to get to know the characters, and the little bit extra you need to realise that you didn’t know them at all, and then it’s done its job. I like that in a movie.

On the other hand, it fails the hell out of the Bechdel test. There are two named female characters, and they never meet. So no conversations. Still possibly better than the last Gandolfini movie I saw, but I am beginning to wonder if I’m ever going to see a movie that even comes close to Bechdel compliance. Maybe it’s me. Maybe my taste is unevolved. 

That aside, it’s a nice tight little movie which gets its punch from how hard it is to figure out what’s going on. The Drop is one of those movies which from moment one makes it clear that things are going to end badly. The question is, how badly, and for who? Is this one of those movies where the bad guys go down in the end, or one of those movies where the good guy is doomed? And while we’re wondering about that, who IS the good guy here? Is Tom Hardy really just a lunk tending bar, or is he up to something? Is all that money going to get itself stolen, and who’s going to be holding the bag if it is? Is that dog going to wind up being somebody’s motivation for a riproaring rampage of revenge? 

In The Drop no-one’s giving anything away, and neither am I. Go check it out. It doesn’t go where you think it’s going; but where it DOES go will still take you by surprise.

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