Tom Hardy plays a lonely, emotionally bruised bartender who works for his bitter cousin James Gandolfini (in his last film role) in a Brooklyn bar that serves as a drop for underworld money.

Once a local big shot, Gandolfini was forced to sell the bar to Chechen mobsters a decade before, although his name remains above the door, and he continues to seethe with resentment at his fall in status.

Hardy keeps a tight lip, which makes him very hard to read. Is he slow on the uptake or simply soft-hearted?

The latter, it would seem, when he rescues a battered pit bull puppy from a dustbin, an act that draws him into the lives of Noomi Rapace’s wary waitress and her abusive ex-boyfriend (Matthias Schoenaerts), a notorious neighbourhood thug.

Meanwhile, Gandolfini’s recklessness is threatening to bring down violent calamity upon innocent and guilty alike.

Adapted by novelist Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island) from his short story Animal Rescue, this twisty crime drama yields its secrets slowly, but sustains an unnervingly claustrophobic atmosphere, making the film’s blend of gritty urban noir and fable-like tale of sin and redemption enthralling.