The newly released film, Lawless, is based on a true story written by Matt Boundurant, The Wettest County in the World. Directed by John Hillcoat (The Road) It is set during the American prohibition and is the story of three Boundurant brothers, Howard, Forrest and Jack, as they become bootleggers in an attempt to continue the production and sale of alcohol while the county becomes overrun with police desperate to stop it.
The film is unapologetically violent and well deserving of its 18 certificate, yet the violence adds another level to the film. The cinematography is absolutely fantastic and the film itself looks incredibly beautiful; there is a clear distinction between the natural landscape and the unnatural violence. Yet there are no clear-cut goodies and baddies in this film, or indeed heroes. It would seem that all the characters are flawed but the audience are drawn into the fate of the brothers. Jack, the youngest brother, played by Shia LaBeouf, narrates the film and tells of how the brothers are ‘immortal’. Throughout the film, this claim is certainly put to the test. This is not a supernatural film and yet by the end, the audience are desperate to believe that this is the case.
By far, the two stand out performances are Tom Hardy, who plays the middle Boundurant brother, Forrest, and Guy Pearce, the formidable police deputy, Charlie Rakes. Hardy’s character, though quiet and reserved brings an immense stage presence to the screen and, unexpectedly, humour to the script. Undoubtedly, this has been a fantastic year for him what with the success of The Dark Knight Rises, and one hopes that this is only the beginning of what look to be a stellar career. Guy Pearce has always been a fantastic actor, able to brilliantly portray the hero or the villain. Despite the lack of obvious heroics in this film, Pearce’s truly evil attempts to defeat the Boundurant brothers allow them to emerge as the heroes.
This film is a work of art but also highly enjoyable to watch. Unlike many of this genre, it is not all ‘lads on tour’ and there are various love stories running through it, which give it much more depth and heart than just an all out gun-slinging film. What makes this great are the performances and the relationships that seem so real. The cast is full of big names, Gary Oldman is typically brilliant but only in a minor role. Allow this film to take you on a journey and it will show you things that you never thought possible.