The last film I saw from Sarah Adina Smith was Birds of Paradise. Smith’s film focused on the nature of femininity and womanhood in the ballet world, and was one of the better films I saw in 2021. So I was excited to discover that she had another movie releasing this year.
However, the fact that The Drop dropped silently on Hulu this past weekend did not bode well for its prospects, not to mention its status as a January film kind of dipped my excitement even more. Unfortunately, the silence is understandable, because this movie is too scattered and meandering to make an impact. It’s trying to make a commentary about gender roles – which appears to be Smith’s forte – but this film doesn’t have much humour despite being a comedy, and the visuals don’t make much of an impact.
Lex (Anna Konkle) and Mani (Jermaine Fowler) are trying to conceive. The first scene in the movie is their valiant attempt to make a baby, and their excitement for what lies ahead. A damper to their morning mood is the approaching wedding party they have to attend in Mexico, which Mani is missing his mom’s birthday for. Mani prioritizes his wife and her obligations above his own, which is a recurring habit of his in the film.
When they reach Mexico, the entire wedding party gathers informally to greet each other, and in the midst of things, Lex drops baby Ani on the ground. Of course Lex feels awful, and tries to cover up her mistake by lying about a bee sting, because what kind of person drops a baby? This is a question bounced around by everyone, where this accident becomes a way for others to evaluate Lex’s affinity for motherhood. Even a old saleswoman on the beach would rather run away than have any interaction with Lex, just to highlight how cursed she is.
The main humour employed in this film is hyperbole. There’s all these melodramatic shots of waves crashing onto the beach, the soundscape containing such an intense foghorn that it suddenly feels all Hans Zimmer and maybe this is a Christopher Nolan film or something. We also have Lex running naked into the ocean and savagely bashing a coconut against a rock to quench her thirst. I understand the intention, but none of the humour lands effectively, and feels more like a cringey skit that’s gone on for far too long.
Lex’s friend group also contains so many of her exes, and Mani is forced to interact with them when he would rather be anywhere else. With the exception of Mani, who’s the emotional centre of the film, all the characters are unlikeable and far too eccentric. The message of the film only becomes clear towards the end, and by then it’s far too late since we’ve spent so much time just dancing in the wind. The film wants to highlight that motherhood doesn’t have to consume the self, that you can satisfy your own desires as well as be a mother. The pressure that young couples face in starting families can sometimes shatter the bonds and relationships they’ve already built.
Keep your relationship at the centre of things, and the rest will follow. While this is a meaningful thing to convey, the journey to get there is simply not worth it.
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The Drop drops the ball at every turn, only coming together in the final moments of the film, and by that point the viewer has already checked out.
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