The Drop, by Dennis Lehane
Adaptations never go movie-book. Book-movie-book-movie-book-movie-book perhaps, if we’re talking canon, or book-movie-book-book-book-book-book-book-book-book-book, if the book in question is 50 Shades of Grey, but never movie-book. Until, at least for yours truly, The Drop.
Boston crime writer Dennis Lehane penned the screenplay for 2014’s The Drop, starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and the late James Gandolfini (this was in fact his last movie). But, being primarily a novelist, he saw the potential for the story of a socially awkward bartender with a shady past to move beyond the confines of cinema, where running time is one of many limitations.
The novel follows the story of the movie carefully, with all of the same characters doing all of the same misdeeds worthy of the crime genre, but for a few exceptions. Minor differences do exist, such as in the setting, but that was Lehane’s preference. What the novel really offers over its movie mother is expansion—in story, character and theme. Where the movie stops short, the novel dives in. Detective Torres is religious and crafty without many vices, other than drinking while on duty. In the novel, his cheating ways are revealed, when on-screen they are only hinted at. This expansion extends to the protagonist, Bob Saginowski, who is as beautifully drawn in the novel as he is in the movie.
The only real criticism that a can be levelled at The Drop is its length—it’s too damn short and ends far too quickly—but since the novel is based on a movie, it’s a criticism that doesn’t hold. What The Drop really needs is a prequel, because Bob the bartender is about a lot more than fixing drinks. One for the road, Mr Lehane?