More often than not, novels that are turned into films do not live up to their full potential.
Whether or not the many limitations of a full book being crammed into a two-hour window are to blame, seeing their favorite characters and stories depicted poorly is always frustrating for a bookworm. Usually these limitations are compounded by a cast of uninspired actors with a script that strays too far from what the novel intended.
Dennis Lehane’s hands-off approach to the adaptations of his novels into screenplays has made his films an exception – with several of his works being made into critically acclaimed blockbusters.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Lehane’s work has had the likes of Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese in the directors chair, along with Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Leonardo DiCaprio in front of the camera. The Drop is the latest film adaptation of a Lehane novel, following the previous success of Mystic River, Gone, Baby, Gone, and Shutter Island. Originally titled “Animal Rescue” by Lehane, The Drop stars James Gandolfini in his final role as “Marv”, and Tom Hardy as “Bob”; two cousins in dreary Brooklyn responsible for the temporary handling of a portion of dirty money that changes hands over the course of a night by way of gambling, drugs, and prostitution. The unsuspecting location of a local yokel bar called “Cousin Marv’s” makes for what should be a smooth hand off to the Chechens criminals – However, there are other forces at work.
While Gandolfini’s untimely death became the headline the film adopted, Hardy deserves most of the credit for bringing the script to life. He plays the role of a soft-spoken, somewhat awkward bartender who at first seems like too much of a simpleton to be associated with New York crime. While Marv and Bob are cousins, Marv seems to serve as more of a mentor, despite his quick temper and salty nature.
Even though Gandolfini doesn’t get the screen time that you’d expect from an actor of his class, he manages to put his touch on the film in a way that not many actors would be capable of. From the beginning of his career, Gandolfini was never overtly suave or handsome. The real appeal wasn’t his image, but rather the way he worked with the emotions of his characters. In roles like 2013’s “Enough Said”, his eyes could look sad to the point that a mere glimpse of his smile was blinding. While the role of Marv might not be the triumphant ending to his career that fans might’ve hoped for, Gandolfini (as an actor) never intended to play the quintessential cowboy riding into the sunset of recognition.
The plot twists are subtly unexpected, which is reminiscent of Lehane’s previous work – keeping you on the edge of your seat until the curtain call. There is a slight love story involved and matters of faith brought up as well, with Bob meeting a woman who helps rescue a puppy he names Rocco, after the Christian saint Roch. Rocco is a pitbull -a breed with as many preconceived notions about it as a bartender in Brooklyn. Bob learns from caring for Rocco, and ends up reevaluating his relationship with Marv and his life in general.
With a money drop at “Cousin Marv’s” looming, they both have decisions to make.
Spoiler alert? Nope, you’ll just have to head out to your local theatre and support the creative genius behind The Drop.