Lawless is based on true-story novel The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant and was adapted for the big screen by Nick Cave. It is hard-hitting tale of moonshiners battling the system in Prohibition-era Virginia and Crimezine loves it.
Many Crimeziners will know Cave from his long reputation as a post-punk musician, writer and poet. Cave is a man untroubled by convention and gives himself obsessively to his art; his off-beat influences shine out in this movie, from the hillbilly soundtrack, to the blood-drenched darkness of the action sequences and brooding cinematography, we know we are dealing with a tale by an outsider, about outsiders for an audience who has the understanding and sophistication to appreciate such things.
Director John Hillcoat-last collaborated with Nick Cave on Australian Western The Proposition, He also worked on such dark classics as the recent interpretation of Cormac McCarthy’s bleak masterpiece The Road, starring Viggo Mortensen. Hillcoat is a childhood friend of Cave, and has worked on many of his music videos. No surprise then that the creative synergy and strength of purpose is strong in this tale of the moonshining Bondurant boys.
Shia La Beouf, is the youngest and most vulnerable of the Bondurant boys and is in many ways the star of this film; the action charts his journey from childhood sensitivity to his emergence as a bootlegging gangster and beyond. His attraction to preachers daughter Bertha, [Mia Wasikowska] balances this sensitive and deeply felt evolution.
The man of the Bondurrant household is undoubtedly the dangerous and monosyllabic Forrest, [Tom Hardy] a simple man with a dislike for outsiders, especially if they are trying to muscle in on his moonshine whiskey operation.
Forrest is a bad man to meet in a fight, the locals think he is “invincible” but it quickly becomes clear that he has his vulnerabilities, especially when he meets fish out of water Maggie, [Jessica Chastain] a hoochie coochie artiste from big city Chicago.
This is a film which works outside the envelope of the Hollyweird Box, an attribute that has left it vulnerable to criticism; then there is the graphic violence, lots of it, but there is nothing here you haven’t seen before. Nick Caves vulnerability as a script writer does show through in a number of places however, and the back woods dialogue does take some getting used to, particularly at the start of the film, though thankfully this seems to ease off as the action progresses.
Star of the show is Crimezine favorite Guy Pearce as reptilian Dandy/Sociopath Special Deputy Charlie Rakes. An outstanding supporting performance, that sees the normally understated Pearce in a role that will make your skin crawl.
Gary Oldman also makes a marvelous Cameo as machine-gun wielding gangster Floyd Banner, a performance that will leave you hungry for more.
Crimezine thinks this film will have your adrenaline pounding harder than a half pint jar of moonshine whiskey, see Lawless this weekend and tell us it ain’t so.