John Hillcoat’s (The Road) latest film tells the true story of the Bondurant brothers during the prohibition era, based on the biography ‘The Wettest County in The World’ written by the grandson of Jack Bondurant. The film stars Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska amongst many and is a roaring thril ride. The violent and yet emotional drama focuses on the Bondurant’s moonshine, or alcohol bootlegging, business and the problems they face in the form of the malignant special agent Charlie Rakes played by an unrecognisable Guy Pearce.
The film boasts a strong script and fantastic country soundtrack, both created by Hillcoat’s long-time collaborator Nick Cave, which gives the film an edge and provides a high standard dark comedy. Whilst some may find the violence in the film to be disturbing or over the top, as many did at Cannes, I felt that it worked well with the plot and rarely went too far. What was interesting though, was the importance of family in this film, each bondurant brother played a significant role in the films events. Forrest Bondurant, played by Tom Hardy, was the mother of the trio, Howard (Jason Clarke) is the out of control brother whilst Jack (Shia LaBeouf) is the naive one.
Guy Pearce was fantastic in instilling fear and hatred towards his character showing once again that he can change characters like a chameleon changing its colour. Shia LaBeouf’s performance really stood out for me though, intially I was unsure what to think of him being cast in the role after the Transformers films, but he really proved himself to be a great and versatile actor in this production. Tom Hardy, on the other hand, brought some comedy to the film, as well as some of its violence, saying ‘hmm’ whenever his character didn’t know what to say in a given situation. On a whole the entire a-list cast should be commended for their work on Lawless as they worked brilliantly together.
John Hillcoat’s directing of the film worked well, giving the set an old look to it whilst also having interesting camera work. The only slight problem I found in the film was that sometimes it was hard to understand what some of the character’s were saying as they spoke quietly, especially some of Tom Hardy’s scenes (although there was a legitimate cause for this). Also it was sad to see that Gary Oldman was only in the film for around 15 minutes, however it did work with the plot. All in all I felt that this film was incredibly enjoyable, although it is understandable that some people might not appreciate the amount of violence in this film. Despite this I think that people should see it, it is an intriguing historical drama and is fantastically acted throughout.
Lawless is in cinemas nationwide.
Written by Roxy Simons.