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Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini? Sold! Really, there is no need to even tell me a plot synopsis if Hardy is involved, I will check this film out one way or the other. And with Gandolfini… he has cuddled and mumbled himself so well into my comfort zone through not just his Soprano performance, but also the few other things I have seen (In the Loop, Where The Wild Things Are and that most recent performance in “Enough Said”)… I feel very comfortable with the idea of him starring in a film I am about to see anyway. And playing the owner of a dingy bar involved in some Chechnian mafia business? A perfect fit!
But it is a funny constellation: Hardy, the bullhead tough guy of so many films, is the big soft guy here, with a heart for a (indecently cute) bulldog puppy and a lack of interest in social interaction – an odd start for a bartender. And Gandolfini plays it low key as the guy who has to deal with all those crooks, who has to stay on top of things without being confrontational. Those two actors really hold it together, and allow the little plot that there is to unfold. There is no big-style mafia collision course, there are some personal dramas, some people trying to make new starts, and there is a very unwise former boyfriend of Noomi Rapace’s character who sets his mind to bringing on some action, after all. That the end of the film brings on some classic mobster motives is fine. That’s what life out there is like, the film seems to whisper, but if you keep a cool head and occasionally change the name of the bar, all will be fine, all will go on.

Lovely little film, full of excitement and devoid of cheap thrills.

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