Director: John Hillcoat
Cast: Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Guy Pearce
Before I begin my review….
As an Aussie, I still get a kick out of seeing Guy Pearce in Hollywood.
Of course, it is always exciting someone of the same nationality as you make it in Hollywood and there is a good acting brigade of Australians in Los Angeles at the moment. Yet, Guy Pearce is one of those actors that, if you are a child of the 1980’s like myself, it is just that tad more exciting.
Pearce was the heartthrob back in the 80’s and early 90’s. He appeared in both Home & Away and Neighbours, which so many Australian actors who have made their break in Hollywood have done. You may recognise some of the names of Home & Away alumni….Heath Ledger, Melissa George, Isla Fisher, Ryan Kwanten, Chris Hemsworth and the list goes on.
Pearce is one of the most versatile actors there is out there. He’s appeared in so many movies, that you always read through the list of films he has made and forget how many of his you have seen. He appeared in two consecutive Academy Award Best Picture winners in The Hurt Locker and The King’s Speech and is never afraid to take risks, such as in Bedtime Stories and as Andy Warhol in Factory Girl.
Versatility is what makes good actors great, and Pearce has that. I was so happy for him when he won the Emmy last year for Best Supporting Actor in A Mini-Series for Mildred Pierce. I would just love to see an Academy Award nomination added to his list of achievements one day in the future!
With a knock-out cast, you would expect Lawless to blow you away. However, it is doesn’t quite reach those heights.
A true story like this has so much potential, yet there always feels like there is something missing. Not a complete bomb by any means, but one of those films where you can’t see where it is headed. A surprise in a film is never a bad thing, but as they say, it is about the journey rather than the destination.
In 1930’s Virginia, Bondurant brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy), Howard (Jason Clarke) and Jack (Shia LaBeouf) run an illegal moonshine trade. Legend has it that the brothers are invincible, a legend which Special Deputy Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) is willing to test to bring their operations to a halt. Rakes isn’t the only one the brothers have to watch their back for, as Franklin County erupts in violence that could compete with Chicago’s gangster culture.
The story of the Bondurant brothers is a particularly interesting one, and it is no surprise why musician, Nick Cave wanted to adapt Jack Bondurant’s grandson, Matt’s novel into a screenplay. It is a well written screenplay as the dialogue doesn’t lack at all, but played out on screen isn’t quite as thrilling as what it should be. The last 15 minutes are by far that best in the film so it is worth waiting for. Yet, the film is very slow to get going and even though it has some shocking moments, just doesn’t pack the punch to feel like the film completely consumes you as an audience member. You have some sort of an idea where the film is headed, but it seems in no rush to get there and can just be downright frustrating at times.
In saying that though, there is plenty to keep the film going. The soundtrack is great and very fitting for the time period. The time period itself is represented beautifully with some stunning images on the screen of Franklin County. It has the right elements in the visuals for the time period such as the separation of white and coloured and the beautiful vintage automobiles. The costume design is also commendable. The costumes are symbolic as to which part of the country the characters are from and the personalities.
Tom Hardy is very good as Forrest Bondurant. Although there is no real stretch of emotions in his role, he does give a solid performance and does all he has to do to bring his role to life. Taking in the knowledge the Hardy is British as well, makes you also want to commend him on his convincing southern accent.
Shia LaBeouf is playing a typical Shia LaBeouf role. He has become the actor in Hollywood to be cast as the underdog in action and thriller films who isn’t your stereotypical action star, but the one who represents a “normal” guy who does extraordinary things. It’s a role someone has to have to that every guy out there can believe they can also be a hero. So this role isn’t too hard for him to play, but he does what he has to do to make it work.
Guy Pearce is very good, as he does really come across as the arrogant and dangerous deputy who can really do anything he likes.
Both Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska are also good. Chastain plays the damaged Maggie Beauford well and Wasikowska plays the sweet preachers daughter, Bertha Minnix well.
Gary Oldman does well for the smallish role as gangster Floyd Banner well, but what happens to his character? His role in the film is left unspoken of. Maybe in the extended version we will find out.
Lawless is visually a very good film, but besides what the eye see’s, there’s nothing overly thrilling about it.
The Internet Movie Database