Lawless

Admirable rather than amazing
Lawless film poster
Prohibition-era bootleggers the Bondurant brothers fall under the gaze of Nick Cave’s screenplay in the king of gloom’s latest collaboration with director John Hillcoat. Their illicit, boozy cottage industry attracts the attention of conniving crooks and the law authorities alike, with drastically different reactions from the naïve youngest brother Jack (Shia LaBeouf) and his reckless senior Forrest (a hard-boiled Tom Hardy).
 
Commencing with the leisurely pace that one might take on a whiskey tour of Kentucky, the film’s languid beginning is punctured by searing savagery. Things soon improve though, with a grotesque sense of southern gothic and wry humour seeping into the escalating intensity of the bloodletting. The denouement fairs less well as Cave’s predilection for religious ambiguity adds a sense of mythology to a story in which a questionable sense of morality is the prime cerebral consideration.
 
Stylish but conservatively beholden to its genre, Lawless is undoubtedly inconsistent; an accusation that couldn’t be levelled at Hillcoat and Cave’s The Proposition or the director’s post-apocalyptic travelogue The Road. If the film can be encapsulated in one of its elements, it would be Guy Pearce’s polarising performance as anarchic lawman Charlie Drakes: sporadically genius, sporadically exaggerated, admirable rather than amazing.

6/10

Words by BEN HOPKINS




DIRECTOR JOHN HILLCOAT
RELEASED AUGUST 31st
CERT TBC
MOMENTUM

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