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Lawless film review.

 

Lawless is set in 1931 towards the ending days of the Virginian Prohibition and is based on the real life story of the three troublesome Bondurant brothers. With starring roles played by Shia LeBeouf, Tom Hardy and Guy Pearce the instant appeal for the film is intact.

 In 2005 John Hillcoat’s and Nick Cave’s release of western The Proposition struck audiences as visually impacting through its violent aesthetics and infliction of fear however, Lawless does not. The film moves slowly through the struggles between the Bondurant trio and bad guy cop Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) as long sections of the film lack excitement and short outbursts of visceral violence is used in others to make an impact on the audience, or at least attempt to.

 Reserved tough man Forrest Bondurant is a well-acted role played by Tom Hardy and is the centre of the extraneous violence. Jessica Chastain plays a tough but vulnerable woman who works in the diner as a front to the illegal and corrupted business ran by the Bondurant brothers. The romance that sparks between her and Forrest is the sole reason to why the audience find his violent actions both acceptable and justifiable and concludes in the audience routing for him against enemy Charlie Rakes.

Jack Bondurant played by Shia LaBeouf is a weak and nervy character determined to step up into the frontline business but is constantly belittled by his two older brothers Forrest and Howard (Jason Clarke); the more traditional hill-billy type. This alongside his secret romance with the beautiful Bertha Minnix, (Mia Wasikowska) the Priest’s daughter makes the audience sympathize with him, as well as making bad guy cop Charlie Rakes even more despicable than his thinning hairline. The pure hatred for this character arises in a dragged-out sequence of extreme violence and fist fury towards weak younger sibling Jack; the only scene in which the violence truly has an appropriate hard-hitting impact.

The film is a well-acted piece and in whole fairly entertaining, but the perpetual gore and violence is its downfall as it distracts from the plot and becomes the dominant focus of the film. John Hillcoat’s The Road is far more impacting as the emotion created is intense and the suspense is ever-present, whereas Lawless lacks creativity and ultimately becomes a show down to who has the biggest pair of balls, that said the acting is flawless and the characters intriguing.

Joe Gawne.