“There are some sins you can’t come back from.” At least that’s what Bob Sagonowski believes in “The Drop”. He doesn’t know it in the beginning of the story, but what he’s looking for, what he doesn’t believe he deserves is redemption. We all want it at some point in our lives. We all need it. But it can take many forms, and it’s sometimes hard to recognize. The story of “The Drop” could be named “Redemption” and we’d all understand. But we’re not meant to merely understand. We’re meant to experience.
Aptly named, “The Drop” is about two cousins who run a mob owned bar in Brooklyn where mob cash gets distributed via drops in the bar. Money gets exchanged and everything goes like clockwork. But human beings are flawed, and we don’t run in precise measured time. We run on emotional time, which is sometimes fast and sometimes slow, and sometimes gets stuck in a loop where we relive a moment we can never get back, over and over again. Such is the case with our cousins at the bar.
Marvin “Cousin Marv” Stipler (played by James Gandolfini) used to own the bar which was taken from him by Chechen mobsters ten, no eight and a half years ago. He “gets” to run it for the mob now, and he can barely disguise his resentment and disgust. His cousin Bob Sagonowski (played by Tom Hardy) however, has moved on and tends bar there, staying on the periphery of the drama. Or so we think.
When Marv, unbeknownst to Bob, hires a couple of dumb thugs to rob the bar in order to pay for the care of his comatose father in a nursing home, things go wrong when Bob notices one of the thieves is wearing a watch on the inside of his wrist that’s stopped. This is a pivotal moment for our protagonist because he tells the police detective whom he sees in church all the time, but does not know personally, the truth about the watch. Of course, the mobsters find out, and while they already suspect fowl play, they’re beginning to think that at least Bob was not in on it.
While all of this is happening at the bar, Bob is undergoing a change in his life, one that differentiates him from the others, his cousin, the mobsters, even the patrons. Bob accidentally rescues a pit bull puppy from a garbage can in Nadia’s (played by Noomi Rapace) front yard. The two of them bond over the battered, bleeding pup and Bob (whose parents are dead) learns to care for him. Learning to care for something beyond his miserable life, sets Bob apart from his cousin, and the mobsters because what he cares for is alive and vulnerable. What Marv cares for is a father who is brain dead, and lying in a coma from which he’ll never recover. What the mob cares about is money and power with no real distinction between the two.
Rocco the puppy is growing, changing and learning, and needs the parental care Bob offers, to do those things well. What Bob really needs is friendship, and he finds it in Rocco as well as a reason to act when Rocco’s psycho owner tries to reclaim him. Plot B of the story is about Nadia and her aptly termed ‘psycho’ ex-boyfriend Eric played by Matthias Schoenaerts, who tries to torment/win back Nadia via the dog in the trash can, Rocco. Eric has taken credit for a murder to earn some street cred, but Bob knows the truth. Things take a turn for the worse when Eric threatens Nadia and Rocco, and Bob’s redemption starts taking form.
The short story and later screenplay by Denise Lahane, captures the soul of someone who suffered, and continues to suffer because of the world he lives in: because of Marv the bully, and the sociopathic mobsters, his social circles in Brooklyn, his family connections, and finally, his belief in God. Suffering is what Bob does best until Rocco and Nadia show him a way out. But to take this path out of his pain he has to love, and while he shows little emotion on the surface, still waters really do run deep. He and Nadia have an unspoken connection, just as he and Rocco do. Bob lives both above and below the rough waters in Brooklyn, and it’s only when he decides what he wants and acts on it, that his life really moves on to a better place.
This is brillant work from all involved, Tom Hardy, James Gandolphine, Noomi Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts, the director, Michaël R. Roskam and the cinematographer, Nicolas Karakatsanis. One rainy day when the children aren’t around, watch this unlikely love story. You won’t be disappointed.