Movie Review: Lawless
Eric Hook wrote this review 3 years and 10 months ago
Lawless is a country drama western about bootlegging during the prohibition era. Based on a true story about the Bondurant boys, a family who refused to pay off the police to keep their moonshine business afloat. The novel was adapted by Nick Cave whose last filmThe Proposition was also a western.
The role of the eldest brother was helmed by Tom Hardy. A juggernaut of a man who is jagged by nature. Hardy shows that explosions & car chases aren’t always neccesary to be seen as a badass. He intimidates the screen with slow moving demeanor and menacing stare. The Bondurants are known around the county as invincible men because of their violent methods, and the fact that they always escape their skirmishes unscathed. And by looking at the two older brothers you might believe so.
Now the youngest played by Shia Labeouf looks to be the opposite. Throughout the film he is continously battered & bruised by their enemies, but he never stops taking risks. His character becomes more & more hardened throughout the film. Attempting to become more like his older brothers, getting rid of the chinks in your armor, becoming invicible. His character progression is a lot of fun to watch.
The Cinematographer was deadly accurate with the hues of film. Even more impressively were the sets, and the locations chosen. Every transition showed us something about the time period; old time barber shops & chickens fighting in the middle of town. There was always something to fixate on. And I have to mention the score as well. The music along with the sets & the outfits created the perfect atmosphere.
One of the best parts of this movie was the morality of every character was twisted around. The bootleggers are the good guys & the police are corrupted. Nobody is really absolved of their transgressions, but the audience knows who to cheer for. Guy Pearce who plays a the head cop gave a remarkable performance. Pearce has no depth to his roles. The man shaved his eyebrows and cut his hair with a very odd part in the middle. He is almost unrecognizable from his other characters over the years. It’s refreshing to see since many actors today like Tom Cruise, Nicholas Cage, and Bruce Willis have the same appearance in every film.
On top of the people I’ve already named Jessica Chastain, who will likely win an Oscar this year for Zero Dark Thirty, plays a reformed stripper from the big city. She has a very sensual nude scene, that doesn’t dwell, it’s quick & to the point, so we can get back to the story. While she doesn’t have tons of screen time, Chastain was a nice addition to the film.
I’m extremely happy that I finally checked this one out, it fullfilled every notion I had about it. Getting the period right is half the battle when prodding this genre, which it did. It also boasted three-dimensional characters, with a lot of breathing room to build a story around them. Lawless is definitely up there in my 2012 list. I hope the set & costume design get a fair shake from the academy, as I expect the acting will be overlooked.