In this film, there’s a dog. A pitbul, named Rocco. It starts as a puppy in pretty bad shape, but grows to be a beautiful dog, probably the most beautiful dog in all of Brooklyn. Rocco is found by a guy called Bob Saginowski who is a bit weird and looks dumb, but seems to have a good heart. He’s played by Tom Hardy, who is a brilliant actor and also looks buff. Rocco was actually inside the Nadia’s bin, who is Noomi Rapace, and loves dogs and knows everything about them, and actually manages to teach Bob how to take care of puppies and stuff. When Bob goes to the bar where he works with Cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), Rocco stays with Nadia. But the plot thickens because Eric (Matthias Schoenaerts), Nadia’s ex-boyfriend and Rocco’s original owner, comes to reclaim him. Bob refuses to give him back, so Eric starts bullying Bob, and Nadia as well. At the end, though, all is well and Rocco will be able to live with his new owner happy ever after.
There’s also some Chechen mafia and money business going around in the background but surely it is not as half important for the plot as Rocco’s storyline is.
So, the script debut of Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone (the books), based on his own short story Animal Rescue, how is it, you ask? Well, it is good, but somehow we can tell this is a very short story extended to please audiences that just don’t want to pay 10 pounds to go see a short film (you bastards). It is dark, it is shady, it has a little character twist, it has a character that himself does not know what is his motivation (hey, better be honest about it, Mr. Scriptwriter!), and damn, it has Tom Hardy showing off his acting skills once again and Gandolfini on his last presence on screen. The director Michael R. Roskam (this being his first feature in English) handles the actors with skill, and creates a paused, slow, proper classic gangster film style that was tasty to see, though a bit too rich at points. Still, there’s just something missing from the plot that we cannot put our finger on, and that’s on top of Rapace being miscast. Maybe we never believe for one instant that Bob is what he seems; maybe we’re just too distracted by Rocco’s cuteness. Maybe there’s a whole parallel storyline with the police force that feels completely disconnected from the rest. Still, let’s all keep an eye on Roskam and Lehane and hope for their next films with curiosity. Plus, Tom Hardy. Go see him otherwise he’ll be sad.
And… have we mentioned this film has a dog?