Monday, 15 October 2012

Film Review: "Lawless" (2012).

"It is not the violence that sets men apart, alright, it is the distance that he is prepared to go."
This is what Lawless presents at gunpointThis crime drama film directed by John Hillcoat; adapted by Australian singer-screenwriter Nick Cave; based on Matt Bondurant's historical novel The Wettest County in the World. Set in Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a trio of bootlegging brothers are threatened by a new special deputy and other authorities angling for a cut of their profits.

Writer Matt Bondurant wrote the historical novel The Wettest County in the World, based on the Prohibition-era bootlegging activities of his grandfather Jack Bondurant and his grand-uncles Forrest and Howard. The film was in development for about three years before it was finally produced. Producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher optioned the book in 2008 and sent it to director John Hillcoat. Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave, who had worked together on the Western film The Proposition (2005), were attracted to the story. The first actor to be cast was Shia LaBeouf as Jack, the youngest Bondurant brother. James Franco was attached to play Howard and Ryan Gosling was attached to play Forrest; Amy Adams and Scarlett Johansson were also attached to the project. Originally titled The Wettest County in The World, like the book, the film's title was changed to The Promised Land. Although Hillcoat intended to begin shooting in February 2010, in January the project was reported to have fallen apart due to financing problems. Only LaBeouf remained with the project. He said that after he saw Bronson (2008), he courted to have Tom Hardy cast in the film. Cinematographer BenoĆ®t Delhomme recommended Jessica Chastain to Hillcoat. By December 2010, Hardy and Chastain were reported to have joined the project. Jason Clarke and Dane DeHaan were cast in January 2011. Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, and Mia Wasikowska joined the cast in February 2011. Lawless was filmed early 2011 in various locations near Atlanta, Georgia, including Newnan, Grantville, Haralson, LaGrange, Carroll County's McIntosh Park, and the Red Oak Creek Covered Bridge near Gay.

The film stars Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, and Guy Pearce. The cast gave magnificent performances, especially to Hardy, Chastain and Pearce. Hardy portrayed the tough guy image with the protective 'big brother' image effectively with a fine balance of the two. Chastain gave an incredible performance as she made a great love interest for Hardy and had a seductive presence throughout, where you could not keep your eyes off of her. Finally, Pearce gave an incredibly disturbing performance and was a true psychopath.

Brutal, unflinching, and violent, but thought-provoking and with excellent performances, this crime drama is the one of the best examples of the genre to come along in recent times. Lawless is an extraordinary film that explores the elliptical nature of man and violence. All the performances are strong but once again Pearce brings a strange power and Chastain is truly fine. And Hardy is oddly perfect. It’s a strange, unsettling film, ultimately quite moving, it’s impossible not to respond to it strongly. It’s not an easy access film. It’s violent and the motivation of the characters is sometimes oblique. It's a fascinating depiction of how far men would go, and I've never seen a film which told what is basically a crime story in such an unusual way. So, it has a lot of originality there. So, there's a lot of intriguing elements to this film, but I did find the violence almost unwatchable. It's a movie you cannot turn away from; it is so pitiless and uncompromising, so filled with pathos and disregarded innocence, that it is a record of those things we pray to be delivered from.

Simon says Lawless receives:

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