Saturday, November 30, 2013

LAWLESS (2012)

Directed By: John Hillcoat 
Written By: Nick Drake 
Based On the Book “The Wettest County in the world” by: Matt Bondurant 
Cinematography By: Benoit Delhomme 
Editor: Dylan Tichenor 

Cast: Shia LeBouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska, Dale DeHann, Gary Oldman, Lew Temple, Noah Taylor,

In 1931, in Franklyn County, Virginia, Forrest Bondurant is a legend as immortal after surviving the war. Together with his brothers Howard and the coward Jack, the Bondurant family has a distillery and bootlegging business. When the corrupt District Attorney Mason Wardell arrives in Franklyn with the unscrupulous Special Deputy Charles Rakes, the Bondurant family refuses to pay the required bribe to the authorities. Rakes pursuits the brothers and unsuccessfully tries to find their distillery. Meanwhile Forrest hires the waitress Maggie, a woman with a hidden past in Chicago, and they fall in love with each other. Jack courts the preacher's daughter Bertha Minnix and deals a great load of alcoholic liquor with the powerful gangster Floyd Banner. Jack shows off in Franklyn attracting the attention of Rakes that finds the location of their distillery. When he kills the crippled Cricket Pate, the locals join forces to face the corrupt authorities.

The film feels full and moves at a brisk pace that feels streamlined. It's so rich and full of character and characters. It oddly feels cut down like the film could have been an epic. Even though the story is soviet and dry simple. A story we have seen a variation of before. Country Vs city mobsters it feels like. At least the film has small details that are fascinating. This films strange is all in the details so much attention is paid to the five minute ones.

This film has a who’s, who of coolness behind it. Though for such a cast and crew the film feels like it should be more daring as it feel tramped down by being more of a mainstream film.

This feels like a film where you want to inhabit the world of the film and get to know the characters then let the story set in. Instead before you can really get to know the Characters the story comes in and stays.

Director John Hillcoat is a naturalistic filmmaker. He sets a open vista for the story. He makes the background and nature a character almost itself that brings a already full story to life. He manages to do it without letting the camera wonder and take nature In with shots of landscapes and wildlife that feels more of a indulgence then necessary.

This I would say Is his most accessible film. I only say that as this film is his most straight forward narrative Though it is about the pot legging business. It feels like a western maybe as it takes place in the south.

The villain is so obvious and mildly over the top even in appearance that sets him apart as strange played by Guy Pearce who gives a chilling performance, but with his pale white skin. No eyebrows an affected way of talking, weird hair style and not wanting his clothes dirty nor to be touched and wearing all black. He matches the cliche of a cartoonish villain with no redeemable qualities.

The film is violent, graphic even. It's a bit more restrained then his usual films.

Based on a true story.

Ryan Gosling, Scarlett Johansson, and Michael Shannon were originally slated to top line the project together with Shia LaBeouf. Who gained 40 pounds for the role. He also drank moonshine in order to gain as authentic an appearance as possible. By his own admission his drinking and over-aggressive attitude caused co-star Mia Wasikowska to try and leave the film.

Hillcoat uses the actors faces as landscapes in of themselves. Helping to define the characters. This is one of the films I have to say is more aimed at men. The film has wonderful actresses in it, but they are only there it seems to show the tough guys sweet side. Though Jessica Chastain is more a femme-fatale.

The film reminds the audience of when men were men tough physically and psychically. Not like most of today's tough guys who kick ass but have a sweetness and sensitiveness to them and only seem tough because they have to as they have been thrown into a crazy situation.

The cast is top notch though I warn you Gary Oldman is only In the film for More of a cameo role. He seems like he either really wanted to worn with the director or here to help ad to the cache of the film, though it would have been better as a nice unbilled surprise. This seems more the type of role he would take in the 90's.

The cast is full of great character actors and luckily none of their talent is wasted.

Shia LeBouf equates himself well amongst the cast. He is a better actor than he usually get credit for

Tom Hardy continues to impress playing various characters well and seeming to transform into them. Though usually resembling a bruiser. Here he is the oldest brother and leader of the clan. An all around bad ass, not only is he tough. He is attacked and almost killed quite a few times and comes back as tough as before. While also being a gentleman.

Jason Clarke is one of the brothers in the film. Who should get equal amount of storyline though is pushed to the way side in a supporting role though his character is just as important. More the wild card but obviously it as big a name as Tom hardy or Shia LeBouf I would guess if anything was cut it probably involved his character

Grade: B

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