'Lawless' Review By Bawnian©-Dexeus
Raw is just an understatement
Directed by: John Hillcoat
Starring: Shia Labeof, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska and Jason Clarke.
You can debate about the sudden switch of the film's title from Wettest County to Lawless, but that won't change the fact that the movie has a cast of potential the has been set and potential that has been newly discovered all to tell the story of a time when America was blunt, wild and for lack of a better term, ugly.
This is the story of three brothers in the jungle of the Prohibition Era building and selling Moonshine secretly as a business. Think of it as the logline for being pitched to a studio. However, the events are recorded memoirs by the youngest of the brothers, Jack Bondurant (LaBeouf) told by his grandson, Matt Bondurant in the novel The Wettest County in the World.
Jack Bondurant is the black sheep of his two older brothers; he is your classic case of a wimp. His brothers, Forrest Bondurant (Hardy) and Howard Bondurant (Clarke) shadow him. Forrest is the eldest and the leader, being the one who was able to raise and protect his younger brothers after a viral epidemic killed their parents. It also affected his health, but he survived, deeming him a legend across Franklin County, Virginia. Such as a legend, not even the local law enforcement, who were contributors to their Moonshine product, wouldn't dare cross him or his brothers.
All good things must come to an end at some point. From out of town, a new threat approaches the brothers Bondurant, when they are visited by a newly-arrived Special Deputy Charley Rakes (Pearce) , who informs Forrest that he wants a cut of all profit made by the county's bootleggers. Forrest refuses and threatens to kill Rakes if he returns. Like any disgruntled officer with problems to the head, he begins to clean house in the brother's backyards in the swamp everyone who's ever done business with them, just to get their attention or just have some malevolent fun. The attention should be given to Guy Pearce for a surprisingly devilish performance. He steals the show as his acting abilities here outweigh the combined efforts of Hardy, LaBeoff, Chastain and basically the rest of the cast. Secondly, we must look at Shia's character when he confront Deputy Rakes, as their combined efforts allow the young actor top shine farther than ever in his growing career, making his performances in Transformers. Tom Hardy plays someone else, obviously, but he really sells it. Chastain, well, the secret is no more a secret. Not what I expected, but stunning. Oh, yeah, her acting was good too. An actor like Oldman is simply a cameo meant to keep you in your seat or attract another type of audience. The story is much of Shia's character than the whole cast. He is weak compared to his brothers and tries to finally wear the pants in the family and achieve greatness with status only few in the swamp lands have dreamed of.
Sadly, it's movies like these that work well on their own to a degree, but try to blend the success of the stars former films of the same year or at least a year prior to achieve box office power. Money isn't everything, but in the entertainment business, it's the only way to provide, provide and provide. I'm sure disc format will boost the green, but hey, it would be well in my shelf. Regardless, the movie is well deserved of its R rating which not only shows how people back in the day were in the core of their nature, but how crude and elegant violence can be expressed through the eyes and mind of a credible auteur.
Overall, another one of the year's best.
Written by: Bawnian©-Dexeus