Filled with just the right touch of violence, action, drama, and comedy, Lawless has the potential to be an award-winning film. It is a modern day version of a country-western gangster movie, set during the Great Depression and prohibition period. Lawless is a fictional film constructed from true events and is based on the novel, “The Wettest County in the World” by Matt Bondurant. It was directed by John Hillcoat (The Road), and adapted into a screenplay by Nick Cave (best known for his music).
Lawless takes place in Franklin County, Virginia and focuses on the lives of the Bondurant family, three brothers immersed in the bootlegging business during the Depression. When the authorities bring in a special agent from Chicago to regulate the sale of moonshine and get a piece of the action, tensions rise. A split occurs between the police force of Franklin County as well as those who’ve agreed to “play ball” against those who support the Bondurants. The three brothers stay strong, creating a trail of violence through Franklin County. Lawless features actors Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, Shia LeBeouf, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska and Jason Clarke. This film is rated R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity.
Lawless is a gritty, emotional, action-packed gangster film. I would caution certain audiences to consider the high level of violence and blood contained in this movie. Although the Bondurant brothers obviously break the law, they are fighting for their lives, making it hard not to root for them. With the Bondurants’ main customers being every local police officer and townsfolk, you can’t help but assume that this was just the way things were done during this time. Lawless keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish with emotional and intense scenes. The performances of the main characters are nothing short of spectacular.
I highly encourage most audiences to see Lawless. This is one of the most complete films I have seen this year. The comedy lies at a perfect level for this type of film, and the outcome of each scene is never what you would expect. Lawless is a heartfelt, captivating story with a stimulating turn of events. I give this film a 4.6 out of 5 stars and recommend Lawless to anyone who is looking for a high quality western-crime drama.
In a special screening of Lawless I attended, The Weinstein Company (film studio behind Lawless) presented the audience with a Q&A session with Dr. Matt Bondurant, author of “The Wettest County in the World”, and grandson of Jack Bondurant (played by Shia LeBeouf). The author shared several interesting comments to the audience, which included pointing out that his novel had a different ending than the movie, and that he had extreme difficulty acquiring information regarding his family. He stated that moonshine and bootlegging were not talked about very often, and he had to use news clippings, stories past down, pictures, court transcripts, testimonials and various legends when researching for the book. Dr. Bondurant also referred to the movie adaptation as “very good”. I also had the pleasure of taking a creative writing course from Dr. Bondurant while attending The University of Texas at Dallas several years ago.
Lawless opens in theaters Wednesday, August 29th, 2012
By: Hayden Pittman, Film Critic for YouPlusDallas
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