Movie review: Lawless (MA)

violent: Dane DeHaan and Guy Pearce step back in time in Lawless.
violent: Dane DeHaan and Guy Pearce step back in time in Lawless.

THE world of 1930s prohibition and moonshine is a long way from the 21st menu of gourmet beers and alcopops.

But Lawless goes a long way to reminding us of what people went through to enjoy a drink on a quiet afternoon.

The film tells the based-on-a-true-story tale of Forrest, Jack and Howard (Tom Hardy, Shia LeBeouf and Jason Clarke), the Bondurant brothers, who create and distribute illegal moonshine for Franklin County.

When special deputy Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) rolls into town looking to shut down the operations a war brews between the two sides.

Most surprisingly, the screenplay has been written by musician Nick Cave who also wrote The Proposition (2005).

Cave also had a hand in the soundtrack of the film, which perfectly matches the cinematography.

John Hillcoat, who also directed The Proposition, has put together a fantastic cast led by LeBeouf, Hardy and Pearce.

It is LeBeouf’s first major film since the franchise-driven Transformers films and he does a good job in the manner we have come to expect from him – the shy character who is determined to prove himself.

Hardy is the main man in Hollywood at the moment having starred as the impressive villain in the finale of the Dark Knight films and he is cast in a very different role as the strong, silent and smart leader of the Bondurant brothers.

In a role that could have used more screen time, Guy Pearce plays the scene-stealing villain of the piece.

With perfectly-parted hair and a precise proficiency for hygiene, special deputy Rakes is an extremely loathable character.

Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska take on the damsel roles with Chastain again proving why she is in such demand in Hollywood.

Chastain first came to major notice when she starred alongside Emma Stone in The Help but Lawless is one of her best performances since then.

Australian actress Wasikowska has done a number of films since coming to notice in Alice in Wonderland.

After taking the lead in Jane Eyre, she has taken a supporting role in Lawless as the daughter of a parishioner who catches the eye of LeBeouf’s character.

In all, Lawless is a gritty, violent and dramatic film that is based on the book The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant, a grandson of Jack Bondurant.

It is violent and bloody in a way that you have to avert your eyes but some of the themes and insinuations will leave audiences feeling queasy but wanting to know more about the characters.

The wonderfully cast film showcases the intriguing and complex characters that are trying to make a quick buck.

And with the challenge of a corrupt and hateable cop playing the villain, Lawless is a film that will have you hooked from start to finish.

- Lawless is now showing at the Bendigo Cinemas. See page 3 of the Bendigo Advertiser for session details.


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