You can read the blog, or you can click on one of the icons below to listen to the podcast version! Even if you don’t have an iPhone, you can listen to it on Apple podcasts for free!
**Warning: Spoilers for both book and movie!**
Animal Rescue by Dennis Lehane (2009)
The Drop by Dennis Lehane (2014)
The Drop directed by Michael R. Roskam (2014)
Animal Rescue is a short story written by Dennis Lehane and was published in a book of short stories called Boston Noir. Years later, Lehane wrote it into a script, and as it was being made, he was asked to also turn it into a novel which was to be released shortly before the movie release. As Lehane himself says, “It started as a failed novel, and then I culled from that novel a short story, and then the story got optioned and became a script, and the script became a novel.”
The short story, the novel and the script were all written by Lehane, and for the most part there are very few differences. The novel is simply more fleshed out than the other two.
Bob is a bartender at Cousin Marv’s bar, which belongs to Marv who is his literal cousin. At least the bar used to belong to Marv, it is now owned by the Chechen mob, who use it as a drop bar.
A drop is when mob’s and such collect payments for their various jobs, but they can’t keep all the money in one place in case they get caught. So, they drop the money in different locations, then later come and pick it up.
One night while Bob is walking home, he finds an injured puppy in a trash can. The trash can belong to a girl named Nadia, and she helps him clean up the puppy which he eventually takes home to keep. They maintain a relationship, taking the dog out on walks and such.
Then one night the bar is robbed by two guys, and we later learn that Marv orchestrated the whole thing. One of the robbers is found by the mob and killed, and Mar ends up killing the other guy himself.
Meanwhile, a guy named Eric Deeds starts harassing Bob, because the dog Bob found belongs to him. We also learn that he and Nadia once dated. Eric tells Bob to give him $10,000 for the dog, which Bob agrees to.
Bob talks to Marv about the dog situation, and Marv seeks Eric out and they make a plan to rob the bar on Super Bowl Sunday which is the biggest drop day of the year.
On Sunday, Eric never shows up for the ten grand, so Bob heads out. He stops by Marv’s place because he hasn’t been able to get in touch with him. Marv tells him he isn’t going into work today and goes on about how this isn’t how his life was supposed to end up. He used to be the leader of a crew and was feared, now he’s no one. When Bob leaves, he prepares for the robbery. The plan is for Eric to rob the bar, and Marv will meet him in the alley.
Bob heads to the bar and it’s crazy busy. Then he notices Eric is there with Nadia. He can’t read Nadia’s face, and feels that pit in his stomach at the thought of her playing him the whole time. He gets a chance to talk to her and she tells him Eric was waiting for her in her home and forced her to come here with him. Bob see’s marks on her wrist from Eric grabbing her and believes her.
After the bar has cleared out, Bob gives Eric the 10 grand, but Eric says he wants what’s in the safe too and threatens to hurt Nadia.
Oh, and a big back story that is referenced throughout the book, there is a kid named Richie Whelan that disappeared ten years ago after leaving Cousin’s Marv’s. The rumor is that Eric killed him, and Eric himself admits it was him. When he threatens Bob, he says he had a partner in the murder, and if Bob tries anything, the partner will get to Bob.
Back to the bar, after Eric says this, Bob tells a story about him and Marv and ends it by revealing that he was who killed Richie Whelan. Eric doesn’t have much time to be surprised because Bob pulls out a gun and shoots Eric.
Nadia leaves, and soon after the Chechens come by to pick up the drop. Bob tells them that Eric tried to rob the place and he shot him. They see Eric’s phone and Bob and the Chechen recognize the last number to call-Marv.
Marv is sitting a block away from the bar, at this point he knows things didn’t go as planned and is about to leave when a guy from the gang comes up and shoots him.
The book ends with Bob and Nadia together.
Thought on the book
I enjoyed this book. It starts out a bit slow, but the last third or so really picks up. I had seen the movie a few years ago, and I didn’t remember what happens, but I recalled there was some kind of surprise at the end. As I read, it came back to me that Bob killed Richie. Even though I already knew this, it was still an exciting read-the last bit of it at least.
The story seems pretty straight forward, but it seems like there is so much symbolism in here that could be dissected. For one, a secondary story that goes on, is about the parish Bob goes to. He is an “old school Catholic” and the parish he attends every day ends up closing to merge with another parish.
We also either meet, or hear about, the fathers of four of the men in this story. Marv’s dad is in a nursing home, barely alive. Eric lives with his dad, who seems to enjoy taunting Eric even though he is also barely alive. Then we have a conversation between the detective Torres and Bob, where Torres asks if Bob was close to his dad. Bob says he was, and Torres says he was close to his dad too.
There is also frequent talk about the newer generation and how they don’t have the same morals and respect of the older generation.
Then there is the puppy, Rocco, which seems like it should symbolize something.
The book is based in Boston, as are most Lehane books, for the movie they switched it to Brooklyn. This movie was actually directed by a Belgium director, stars Tom Hardy who is British, Noomi Rapace who is also Swedish and Matthias Schoenaerts who is from Belgium. Gandolfini is the only member of the main cast who is American.
Tom Hardy Is in the lead as Bob. Bob is known as being socially awkward and unattractive, and also 6’3”. Not only is Tom Hardy only 5’9”, he is also one of the sexiest actors out there, so from that perspective, he is a terrible choice for Bob! Hardy is of course a magnificent actor and pulls off the social awkwardness, so I guess that makes up for the fact that he looks nothing the way Bob is supposed to look. This is Hollywood though, not surprising they won’t get an unattractive man in the lead role.
Hardy actually played a “Bob” in the movie Rocknrolla, where he very fittingly plays a character named Handsome Bob. This was actually the first movie I watched with Hardy, though he wasn’t an actor I really noticed until he was in Inception. Soon after, he was in The Dark Knight Rises where he played Bane and that role really helped him become a household name. Though cinemfiles will always associate him with the movie Bronson, which he is brilliant in. Then in 2015 he was in Mad Max: Fury Road, which I am just tossing in here because I love that movie and simply wanted to give it a shout out.
At this point, Hardy has had a number of roles where he plays the “strong, silent type”, including in The Drop. Even though he’s great in those roles, I now like seeing him playing more diverse characters.
Noomi Rapace plays Nadia. She and Hardy were friends before this and were trying to find a movie to do together. Noomi read this script and sent it to Hardy saying, “this could be the one!” And indeed, it was.
Once again, in the book Nadia is said to be somewhat unattractive, but of course Hollywood got someone beautiful for the role “eye roll* Having said that, I love Rapace! She is amazing in this; I just wish she could have been in a bit more of it! I will say though, she isn’t the best at hiding her accent.
While we are on the topic of Rapace, the first movie I saw her in was Prometheus which is one of my all-time favorite movies. I know, I know, you’re thinking how can I like that better than its predecessors Alien movies?? I think it’s mainly due to the fact that Prometheus was the first movie of the series that I saw it in theaters, and it was just so incredible. And it has Michael Fassbender who is absolutely fantastic!
Side note on Prometheus, it has Logan Marshall-Green who is a major doppelganger for Tom Hardy. Made me wonder if they had originally wanted Hardy (since he and Rapace were wanting to do a movie together) or if it is just a coincidence. I tried to find out if Hardy had been originally cast or something like that but didn’t find any insider info on that.
James Gandolfini is Marv, and this is the last role he ever played. He died of a heart attack one month after the finished shooting, he was only 51. He is known for The Sopranos, which I am ashamed to admit I have never watched! I keep meaning to, because it was produced by Matthew Weiner who later created Mad Men. Anyway, Gandolfini is excellent as Marv and also looks the way I pictured.
Matthias Schoenaerts plays Eric Deeds. While reading, I pictured Eric as being this skinny, seedy looking white trash guy. When I saw Schoenaerts IMdB image, I was like what the heck he looks nothing like Eric Deeds! However, for the movie he really does encapsulate Deeds and gets that trashy look really well.
John Ortiz is who Lehane pictured when he wrote the role of Torres, and he was fortunate enough to get Ortiz for the role!
Cameo alert-fans of the show This is Us will recognize Chris Sullivan in a brief role. He plays Toby in This is Us, and here he plays one of the friends of Richie Whelan and is shown being interviewed by Torres.
Short story vs novel
The biggest difference between the short story and the novel, is that in the short story Mar is not part of the robbery and doesn’t die in the end. Aside from that, the short is just a very condensed version of the novel. It has the same plot, of Bob the quiet bartender finding the puppy, meeting Nadia, Eric using Nadia to get money from Bob, and then Eric and Nadia showing up during the super bowl where the same drama goes down. There is not Torres, and no insight into the backstory of all these characters.
Lehane said it started out as a failed novel, so it must have been interesting to go back five years later and finally flesh it in a way he for some reason hadn’t been able to do prior.
In the novel, he says he thought of naming the dog Cassius, after Cassius Clay, but ends up going with Rocco. In the short story, Cassius is the name he does pick for the dog. The movie has no mention of the name Cassius. He says he was thinking of naming him Rocco or Mike, and Nadia says Rocco is a much better name.
One of the bigger differences is in regard to Eric Deeds. In the book you just learn more about him than you do in the movie. We learn about his time in prison, he got arrested for a robbery that took place in South Carolina so that’s where he serves his time. While locked up, he is “protected” by a guy named Padgett. Padgett gets out a few months before and when Deeds gets out, he gets in contact with him. Padgett has some black tar heroin Deeds is going to sell, but Deeds has other plans. When getting to Padgett’s place, he ends up killing Padgett and the other two people who were there. He then burns the house down, and accidently burn the heroin as well. This intro to Deeds, and seeing into his head, we see how mentally unstable he is. While in prison he creates a list of things to live by, which over time he memorizes. The list is, “1. Never trust a convict 2. No one loves you 3. Shoot first 4. Brush three times a day 5. They’d do it to you 6. Get f—ing paid 7. Work fast 8. Always appear reasonable 9. Get a dog” That list alone gives a lot of insight into who he is as a person.
Another difference with Deeds, is he is supposed to be like a decade younger than Bob. There is talk throughout about the newer generation are slackers who don’t respect others around them, dress poorly and don’t listen. In the end of both the book and movie, when Bob shoots Deeds, he says, “I’m sorry, but you kids. You know? You don’t have any manners. You got out of the house dressed like you’re still in your living room. You say terrible things about women. You hurt harmless dogs. I’m tired of you, man.”
Honestly, this seems a bit hypocritical. Bob himself may be a man of morals. But that doesn’t mean his whole generation is so much better. As if older generations weren’t sexist and didn’t do bad things, come on. This also doesn’t really work with the actors, because Hardy and Schoenaerts were born the same year! One more reason why Hardy isn’t really ideal for the role. It really should have been someone closer to Gandolfini’s age.
We also have the other bartender, Rardy. In the book he is there the night of the first robbery and gets injured. He is also younger than Bob, and they talk about how he is always late for work or sometimes just doesn’t show up-this lazy generation. After he gets out of the hospital, he just doesn’t show up anymore. Bob even goes to see his wife, and she says she hasn’t seen him in days, but he often disappears for days at a time. Then on Super Bowl Sunday, Rardy is at Cousin Marv’s, drinking with his buddies. This just further angers Bob, who’s already on edge as it is.
In the movie, Rardy goes to the hospital, and there isn’t much else said about him. But they have his there working during the Super Bowl, so he doesn’t disappear the way he does in the book.
The story of Glory Days
Richie Whelan has the nickname ‘Glory Days’ because he played football in high school and was always talking about the glory days when he was the star player. In the book we find out that he placed bets through Marv, who then reported to a higher up. He was in a lot of debt and it looked like he wouldn’t be able to pay. Then one night he wins $17,000 at a casino. With that money he is able to pay Marv, but Marv has a cocaine habit and uses too much of the money to buy himself drugs. As we learn, the mob can’t find out Glory Days paid his debt, because then they would know that Marv kept it from them. So, Marv and Bob have to cover it up by Bob kills Glory Days, even though he was a good guy who did nothing wrong. In the book there is a scene where Nadia and Bob are talking, and she says something about how most people are bad. Bob disagrees and says, “Most people are okay…They just, I dunno, make a lotta messes and then they make more messes trying to clean those first messes up and after a while that’s your life.” This basically sums up Bob and Marv. Granted, Marv goes a bit deeper, because he kills one of the robbery accomplices, then even goes behind Bob’s back to work alongside Eric.
Though I don’t think he was worried about Bob, he knew he could stand his own. In both the book and movie Marv calls Eric and realizes he got the bar hours before he was supposed to. In the book Marv says,
“‘…Why can’t anyone stick to a plan in this world anymore?…’
Deeds said, ‘Don’t worry about it. I’m in his head.’
‘If you were in the guy’s head you’d be screaming, and you’re not screaming. Look, I know what he seems like, but I [kid] you not, do not [mess] with that man. Just leave him alone and don’t call attention to yourself.’”
Marv is the only person who seems to really know Bob, and what he is capable of.
In the movie, this basically goes just as the book, only difference is that it isn’t a cocaine habit Marv has, but a gambling addiction. Not sure why they changed that since it’s just a small difference, why not just stick to the original addiction?
In regard to the church, both Bob and Torres attend the 7am mass, and Torres is the one that tells Bob about it closing and being bought up by condos. Bob hasn’t taken communion even since the incident with Richie, and Torres notices. Bob feels there are some sins you can’t come back from, and he hasn’t forgiven himself for killing an innocent kid, just to keep Marv protected. Torres though feels like in life you sin, but the point is to then confess, take communion and try better the next day. He is having an affair with a fellow cop, and the last time he is with her she says, “is this all I am?” talking to herself. As in, “do I have no self-respect?”. Torres plans for next time, if she has this attitude, he’s going to say that when they are together is when they are their true selves and that’s why it works. However, next time he sees her she is about to meet a different guy, one she says in special because he actually sees her. Torres says that he sees her, and she says you only see one side of me, and it isn’t the good side. Whereas this new guy see’s the good that’s in her.
The movie has the female cop but doesn’t show that they are having an affair.
In both, Torres notices Bob doesn’t take communion. This is one of the reasons he suspects Bob killed Richie, and after Eric dies and comes to the bar and asks Bob about him. Bob of course gives nothing away, but as Torres leaves, he leans in and says, “They never see you coming, do they, Bob?”
There are two significant changes to the end. In the movie and book, Bob kills Eric and then tells Nadia that Eric would have just kept coming back. He would never have left Bob or Nadia alone and that Eric basically gave him no choice. In the movie, Nadia asks if she can leave, and Bob, not thinking much of it is just like yeah of course. On her way out, she promises she won’t tell on Bob and he says I know you won’t, as if the thought of her telling on him hadn’t even occurred to him. Nadia is clearly shaken up of course and is now scared of Bob. She makes reference to Bob and his people, and he tries to convince her that he isn’t the same as these other people, like Eric, and other criminals. This is a great scene in the movie thanks to the acting by all, but especially Rapace. After she leaves, Bob sees his reflection in a broken mirror and see’s Eric’s reflection, wondering if he and Eric are that different from each other after all.
In the book, there is an earlier conversation he’s having with Nadia, where he says, “I think there are some sins you can’t come back from. No matter how much good you do after, the devil’s just waiting for your body to quit ‘cause he already owns your soul. Or maybe there’s not devil but you die and God says, ‘Sorry, you can’t come in. You did an unforgiveable; you gotta be alone now. Forever.’” In the movie, this line is used after the night of the Super Bowl, he drives home and is sitting in his car with Hardy doing this line in a voiceover.
Early in the book, there is a lot of insight into how incredibly lonely Bob is, in the movie it’s shown somewhat, but this scene in the car is really makes you feel how alone he is. Marv is dead, and Nadia is scared of him.
The book ends with Nadia coming over and saying she wants to be with him, even if he ends up killing her, which he is very caught off guard by because he would never even think to hurt Nadia.
Then in the movie, there is a great scene where Bob goes to Nadia’s house, she is outside and walks up to the gate. Bob says that he knows when she left the other night, it was her way of saying, “stay away from me”, but she didn’t actually say it. If that’s what she wants, she needs to say it and he’ll leave, but he needs to hear her actually say it. Nadia then says she’ll go grab her jacket so she can walk with him. Bob is happy and relieved as she goes back for her coat. The camera stays on Bob as he waits for her to return. As the camera is still on him, we hear the door open and footsteps approach, then it ends before seeing if it was Nadia or someone else who came back out.
The movie originally had a more concrete end, but Hardy really pushed for an ambiguous ending, and they ended up deciding to go with that.
Book or Movie?
This is called Why the Book Wins, but these last few I’ve done, the majority have been in favor of the movie! Here though, I think it ends up being a toss-up. I like the insight the book gives, but the film is also really well done. Both the book and movie start off a bit slow, then the last third or so the tension really starts building up to the climax at the bar. I have my complaints about the look of the cast, but the acting itself I have zero complaints about. If you watched the movie already, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the book since it doesn’t alter too much from the movie anyway. And honestly, the more I think about it, if I had to choose one or the other to recommend to people, I think I would just recommend the movie. They both are really similar, as I said, by skipping the book, you just miss out on the inside look we get into Torres and Deeds.