Lawless is a prohibition era gangster flick that’s based on the incredible true story of the bootlegging Bondurant brothers who took the law into their own hands.
Directed by John Hillcoat, this often brutal biopic is carried by the outstanding cast. The film is adapted from “The Wettest County in the World,” a biography on the Bondurant brothers written by Matt Bondurant.
The story revolves around the Bondurant brothers played by Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Jason Clark, who make a living bootlegging moonshine during prohibition and get on the wrong side of special deputy Charlie Rakes (played by Guy Pearce). Tom Hardy shines as brooding and brutal brother Forrest, whose performance alone makes the movie worth seeing. With such few words spoken, Hardy can convey remarkable emotion in a single look. I see an Oscar nomination somewhere down the road for Hardy; he is an absolutely fantastic actor.
Shia LaBeouf is cast as the youngest brother out to prove himself to his older brothers. He plays the role with surprising vulnerability. I was very impressed as it’s a big departure from his goofy Transformers character that he’s best known for.
Guy Pearce is absolutely brutal as the villain, he is personified evil, and trust me, you will hate this guy. There is also a very small role played by Gary Oldman; I wish we would have seen more of his character, as he steals every short scene he is in.
The setting in rural Virginia during the depression era is beautifully captured by John Hillcoat. You really get a sense for the time, which pulls you into the story. The soundtrack is also fantastic; it’s beautiful and haunting at times.
Recent academy award nominee, Jessica Chastain, brings a certain softness to the film as a runaway showgirl looking to start a new life. What really surprised me about this movie is that it actually has quite a few comedic moments and I found myself laughing in one scene, then shocked by the brutal violence a minute later—it’s an interesting combination.
I went into Lawless expecting your typical gangster movie and was pleasantly surprised at what I saw; an extraordinary ride carried by top notch performances. (4/5 stars)