The trials of the Pendle Witches in 1612 are among the most famous witch trials in English history, and some of the best recorded of the 17th century. The twelve accused lived in the area around Pendle Hill in Lancashire, and were charged with the murders of ten people by the use of witchcraft.
Their names were:
Elizabeth Southerns, alias Demdike
Elizabeth Device daughter of Demdike
James Device son of Elizabeth Device
Alison Device daughter of Elizabeth Device
Anne Whittle alias Chattox
Anne Redferne daughter of Chattox
John Bulcock son of Jane Bulcock
Katherine Hewitt alias Mould-heels
The accused witches lived in the area around Pendle Hill in Lancashire, a county which, at the end of the 16th century, was regarded by the authorities as a wild and lawless region: an area “fabled for its theft, violence and sexual laxity, where the church was honoured without much understanding of its doctrines by the common people
The Pendle witches were tried in a group that also included the Samlesbury witches, Jane Southworth, Jennet Brierley, and Ellen Brierley, the charges against whom included child murder and cannibalism; Margaret Pearson, the so-called Padiham witch, who was facing her third trial for witchcraft, this time for killing a horse; and Isobel Robey from Windle, accused of using witchcraft to cause sickness.
drinking a latte + reading define magazine at heritage. checking out the new chicago le labo + picking up fragrance samples. lunch at cafe robey. buying an issue of drift magazine + the newest cereal mag. getting a haircut + blowout.
Toronto Film Festival: A brilliant script, Tom Hardy nuzzling a puppy, James Gandolfini giving a superb final performance - there’s a lot to love in this crime drama, says Tim Robey
A crackling Brooklyn accent makes us sit up at the start of The Drop. It’s as if Ray Liotta’s character from Goodfellas had gargled bourbon and tried out a promising impression of Christopher Walken. We soon realise it’s emanating from Tom Hardy, who plays Bob, the bartender at a place called Marv’s. This local institution, where a lot of the movie is set, is the designated place where ill-gotten gains in the neighbourhood get stashed in a time-locked safe until the heat has gone.
Marv, who is known as Cousin Marv to just about everyone, sees Bob as an employee first, a blood relative second. He’s played by James Gandolfini in his final screen appearance - there are no more lurking on file. He’s superb. The actor’s burly gravitas has an edge of threat here, even before we realise what he’s up to: arranging the robbery of his own bar by some weaselly and desperate characters, with whom he’ll split the cash he’s meant to be looking after.
Bob, who isn’t privy to this exceptionally risky scam, seems slow on the uptake. And he’s busy with a little project of his own. Walking home one night, he hears yipping in someone’s dustbin, and discovers a wounded pitbull terrier puppy has been abandoned inside. The bin’s - but not the dog’s - owner is a young woman called Nadia (Noomi Rapace), who’s understandably fearful about the bearded stranger investigating her rubbish. Reassured by Bob’s gentle if guarded manner, she helps him get the animal inside for first aid, on the proviso it becomes his responsibility, not hers. Hardy didn’t need help being adorable in this role, but if you can resist him nuzzling a puppy for a good half of the movie, you might be made of granite.
The crime writer Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone) has adapted this rich, leisurely yarn from a short story he wrote called Animal Rescue, relocating it from the Boston suburb of Dorchester. It’s a fantastic script, with a grizzled vein of gallows humour about the thin line between living and dead: Marv’s father, who’s on life support, is a case in point. It also has a director, the Belgian Michaël R Roskam, with perfect credentials for poking around in these unexamined male psyches. His last film, Bullhead, was about a wounded mutt in human form, played in a galvanising breakthrough performance by this film’s Matthias Schoenaerts.
Lehane might have given us a play, if he’d felt like it: Marv’s bar has something in common with the junk shop in David Mamet’s American Buffalo, a place where lives are unspooling nightly, an epicentre of violence and betrayal. But the film isn’t static or stagey. It’s cut and scored with rhythmic, bluesy confidence, biding its time, and keeping a lot of narrative cards close to its chest.
Schoenaerts, John Ortiz as a cynical cop, and a never-better Rapace lend a lot of grit and magnetism.
But it’s Hardy’s performance, above everything else, that sneaks up on you. Following his sterling work in Locke, this trudging, subdued characterisation is another mettle-testing triumph. It’s his most Brando-esque performance to date, without making a great show of its craft or virtuosity. It’s a stealth tour de force. Lehane, Roskam and their star build this character up with loving care, almost as if tending a puppy of their own. You don’t know if he’ll bite or be bitten, but there’s absolutely no doubt you’ll be on his side.
Photo: Reuters/Fred Thornhill (I’ve edited the image)