Hardy Becomes the Real Star of Lawless

Based on the book The Wettest County in the World, Lawless tells the story of a bootlegger family as they deal with the law and the mob during Prohibition. While not the best movie every made, it’s enjoyable with a predictable outcome and some might fine acting.

The movie follows the youngest Bondurant brother Jack (played by Shia LaBeouf) as he turns from coward into a prideful, arrogant man. It’s hard to like Jack. As the movie begins, his only real job in the bootlegging business is driving the car and an altercation outside a delivery shows that he hasn’t matured enough to really get into the business. But when he makes one deal that goes right and suddenly he is a big wig dating a preacher’s daughter, flaunting his wealth. This culminates when Jack learns that pride comes before the fall.

It is Forrest, the Bondurant patriarch, who captures his audience’s attention. He tries to teach Jack the ways of the world but steps back when the foolish boy won’t learn his lesson. He’s the kind of father, protector many woman want. Quiet, loyal, and stands up for his freedom. The filmmaker’s seem to sense this and spend time developing that character. Tom Hardy plays the enigmatic eldest brother wonderfully from the slumped bowlegged walk to the grunts that portray many answers. Hardy has a musical Appalachian drawl that would put a rattle snack to sleep.

Forrest displays brute strength and wisdom. When teaching Jack about standing up for himself, he says that it’s not violence that makes the man, but if he goes as far as necessary. Forrest’s biggest is concern is that the brothers don’t give in to the corrupt deputy sheriff who is charging safety fees for delivering their moonshine. He doesn’t strike the enemy but plainly states his stance on the subject and walks away. It is only after two of the villain’s men try to kill him and rape his girlfriend that he deems violent death necessary. In fact, the movie takes a scene from Sons of Anarchy episode, “FunTown.”

I was surprised to see how little Gary Oldman was in the film (the second picture this summer featuring Hardy and Oldman together). He plays a mob boss that becomes one of the best buyers to the Bourdant brothers. As always, his acting is spot on and you would never believe that was Commissioner Gordon.

NickCave penned the script and seamlessly movies from song writer to screen play author. The movie is full of pithy quotes and meaningful moments and flips the roles of stereotypes. The music fit in perfectly for the mood time and time of the film creating a concise portrayal.

Less a tale of bootlegging and more a tale of family and of coming of age, Lawless is a lovely period peace with some punch. Forget sending me away with the words of a love song, Hardy’s voice as Forrest is the last thing I want to hear.

 

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