"it is incredibly violent - not over the top or relentless nor gratuitous - but when it is, it certainly leaves an impression"
Set in the prohibition era of the 1930's, Lawless is the thought provoking and harrowing true story of the Bondurant Brothers and their illegal moon shine trade.
Lawless isn't your typical gangster film, and credit must go to John Hillcoat (who brought us the brilliantly harrowing and bleak The Road), he has expanded on that emotional core seen in The Road and transposed it here.
The film shines on many levels, most notably the spot on casting of Tom Hardy as the 'patriarchal' figure head of the family, Forrest. Meanwhile Shia LeBeouf plays Jack, a real love or hate character who is charming, and he turns in a fantastic performance in this role of the younger brother. Jack is rather naïve and cocky, which is a direct parallel to that of Hardy's Forrest. It's obvious from the outset that Jack would like nothing more than to get out of his brother's shadow, and while he does so in a way, it isn't without sacrifice.
That isn't to say that this film is all business and heavy from start to finish, it masterfully has moments of levity, showing the camaraderie of the brothers, portrayed in a scene where Hardy's Forrest introduces Jason Clarke's maniacal figure Howard, during a memorable scene at the Bondurant House.
I also have to tip my hat to Guy Pearce who looks to relish his time as the antagonist of the piece. Whether or not his portrayal is historically accurate, it's bloody good fun to watch.
The pace of the film is well balanced; there are a couple of cringe worthy moments, which can't be mentioned in fear of giving the game away, but I will say it is incredibly violent - not over the top or relentless nor gratuitous - but when it is, it certainly leaves an impression.
The supporting cast are fantastic, even if it felt like some of them - notably Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska and Gary Oldman were criminally underused, although as they say; 'there are no small parts, only small actors'.
The landscapes and music add atmosphere and are all beautiful, all in all, Lawless is a tour de force for Hillcoat, and a spectacular film to experience and one you won't regret doing so.