Opening 4 Dec 2014
Bob Sagninowski (Tom Hardy) works for his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) in a small neighborhood bar. Small-time gangsters “drop off” ill-gotten money which Bob collects and hides under the counter for pick up. He is a loner with no social life except daily attendance at the Catholic Church for Mass, although he never takes Communion. Part of his sadness stems from the death of friend Richie, who died ten years ago. He rescues a pit bull puppy named Rocco out of a garbage can. He asks his neighbor Nadia (Noomi Rapace) for advice on caring for the dog and, for the first time, Bob gets a grip on life and begins a personal relationship. Life takes an upward turn until Eric, Nadia’s ex-boyfriend and original owner of the dog, appears. Then the bar is robbed and the police become interested.
Belgian Michaël R. Roskam directs this sympathetic film, based on the short story Animal Rescue by Dennis Lehane, who is credited with the screenplay. Lehane said, when asked about his idea for the original story, “I think that loneliness kills more people than cancer, and I couldn’t get this thought out of my head.” Roskom found his perfect site in Brooklyn, New York, i.e., an old Catholic church in a neighborhood bustling with people. He spent weeks visiting various neighborhoods which are seldom seen in movies and said, that “these neighborhoods are disappearing in the U.S.” He said he had never been in so many bars in his life – going from one to the next, listening to people talk about the local gangsters and their shadow worlds. The actors, from Great Britain, Sweden, Belgium, etc., learned the typical Brooklyn accent. Tom Hardy carries the film though his own personal charisma. Director Roskam said, “The role of Bob was the most difficult to cast since Bob fills the emotional center of the film although he, himself, shows very few emotions.” This was Gandolfini’s last film before his untimely death in 2013. (Becky Tan)