Set in depression-era Franklin county, Virginia, a bootlegging gang is threatened by a new deputy and other authorities who want a cut of their profits.
Having heard mixed reviews about Lawless, I decided to see for myself.
Its hard to describe this film in such a way that would really do it justice. It is predominantly mindless, bloody and at times teeth clenching violence; but it wouldn’t be fair to say that violence is all it has to offer.
Shia LaBeouf’s performance is surprising; I’d never imagined in my time watching him in The Even Stevens on kids TV that he
could ever be more than an irritating brat, but wow has he grown up! His performance out of all is probably the best and most moving; I felt more emotionally connected to, and consequently felt more empathy for his character, which really surprised me. Tom Hardy however is questionable. For me his part lacked any kind of emotional depth and I found that in one particular, rather cringeworthy throat slitting scene, I just didn’t feel any empathy at all for him. Credit where credit’s due though, he does a fantastic job of grunting like a pig throughout the films duration!
Another credit worthy performance was that of Guy Pearce, who played a terrifying deputy called Charlie Rakes, who wanted nothing more than to destroy the Bondurant brothers’. He made a fantastic villain, simple yet very effective! And his acting was superb.
There’s very little story involved, yet Lawless does pack a punch or two. Some of the violence is very difficult to watch, even for someone who has seen more horror movies than they’ve had hot dinners! However it suits the tone of the film and doesn’t seem out of place; its not just violence for violence sake. There’s several love stories involved, and some very moving stories of friendship and loss that brought a tear to my eye at one point!
The cinematography is beautiful. The settings and locations are stunning and build a beautiful and remarkable image of depression-era America. Some of the shots are fantastic, and the colours are warm and bold; somewhat juxtaposing the violence throughout effectively; aiding the empathy that the audience is meant to feel for this otherwise slightly unlovable group of brothers.
Lawless boasts an array of famous names, however I feel slightly let down that Gary Oldman’s part was so small. As anyone who has seen Leon will know, Oldman plays a fantastic villain. Had his part been utilised a little better, I think the entire film could have been lifted up a notch. As it stands, his appearances seemed almost pointless; as if just a lever to drive the plot forward slightly every now and again.
Overall Lawless is stunning to watch and also quite moving. If you can get past the brutal violence and enjoy it for what it is, I would definitely recommend it! Very well constructed, and a beautiful piece of cinema with top notch performances and a brilliant soundtrack to boot. Lawless is one to watch.
Writer/Blogger and full time marketing officer, currently living in Walsall, UK. Just an average 20-something; slave to three guinea pigs and one fiancé, just muddling through life and enjoying the little things.
View all posts by Natasha Harmer