Lawless is another team up by director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave, who previously brought us The Road and The Proposition. This film is based on the book entitled The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant. It’s about the Bondurant brothers during the prohibition era in Franklin County Virginia, they make moon shine and have run ins with no so nice people. The film stars Tom Hardy, Shia LeBeouf, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska and Gary Oldman.
The good; it’s Hillcoat and Cave collaborating again, I love their movies. They manage to blend two genres together, the western and the gangster/mob genre, this melding is much better than that of Public Enemies.
The acting is great, there’s a great sense of family with the Bondurant brothers, normally I don’t like Shia Le-Beef, but in Lawless he’s casted perfectly as the young brother Jack.
Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Forrest, the brains behind the operation, is wonderful, he reminds me of Clint Eastwood in a western, long stares with minimal dialog.
Guy Pearce plays Special Agent Charlie Rakes, and is creepy as all hell.
The action and violence is gritty and visceral. It gives this film that wild west feel, where frontier justice ruled over any authority. The pacing is methodical, but not to the point of being slow, and these moments are then punctuated with scenes of violence.
The music for the film is great as well, it’s done by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (non-comic book). The score feels period appropriate but then there are songs with lyrics and even those songs are done as if they came from that time. Great choices.
The bad; it does detract from history, but then again the movie is “based” on a true story.
There’s not enough Gary Oldman, his introduction in the film is superb, I wanted more of him. We’re introduced to his character, Floyd Banner a wanted gangster, through the eyes of Jack, we see this brutal act of violence with a sense of longing and romanticism that influential youths have, this is what leads him down the road to criminal activity.
Overall a gem of a movie, I can’t wait to see Hillcoat’s next movie, I hope he teams up with Cave again. During a Q & A, Hillcoat mentioned that it’s hard for him to make films in this country, USA, cause there’s not enough time, things are rushed. I couldn’t agree more. When people talk about Grindhouse cinema, I might argue that that period of film-making never ceased, it just became the norm. I highly recommend this movie and you can see it now on Netflix.
Oh and don’t sit next to old people during movies… during the Q & A this guy brought out a book and started reading…