Gandolfini plays crime boss in last film

By Michel Comte, AFP

TORONTO–In his final role before his death, actor James Gandolfini returns to the criminal underworld that made him famous in “The Drop,” which premiered Saturday at the Toronto film festival. In it, Gandolfini plays former crime boss Marv who is now in the pocket of a new and crueller operation. Tom Hardy (“Star Trek: Nemesis,” “Inception,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and the upcoming “Mad Max” reboot) is a Brooklyn bartender at a neighborhood pub that doubles as a drop — a place for local Chechen gangsters to launder money. When the drop is stolen, they must weigh who poses the greater threat — the Chechens or a sharp cop played by John Ortiz. The film was directed by Michael Roskam (“Bullhead”) and also stars Noomi Rapace (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”), and Matthias Schoenaerts (“Bullhead,” “Rust and Bone”). American author Dennis Lehane, whose novels “Mystic River” and “Gone, Baby, Gone” were adapted into films, built up one of his own short stories into the script for this film. Gandolfini’s Golden Tongue When Gandolfini was cast, he said he wanted to throw in more dialogue “because of how Gandolfini can turn street speech into a symphony.” Gandolfini died of a heart attack in Rome in June 2013 shortly after shooting the film. He was 51. The New Jersey-born actor had shot to fame with his portrayal of emotionally vulnerable mafia boss Tony Soprano in the hit television series, which earned him three Emmys and a Golden Globe. Another film released after his death, the romantic comedy “Enough Said” with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, also premiered at the Toronto film festival. “The Drop” is a nuanced character study in a world of moral ambiguity — a theme recurring in Lehane’s novels. “I’m keenly fascinated with the battle between the haves and have-nots,” he said. “I think it’s a rigged game. I think it always has been. And I am interested in the have-nots side of that argument because that’s the people I grew up with.

“The have-nots tend to express themselves at moments of great pain with violence because it’s the only weapon they really have available. It’s not the violence of a corporation. They can’t take you out with a pen. They can’t take you out with a law. They can’t take you out with citizens united. They can’t buy a court.

“The reason I gravitate towards (film) noir. All noir is is working class tragedy,” Lehane went on to explain.