Starring Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy, Lawless tells the story of the Bondurant brothers, a family of moonshiners during the prohibition era. Directed by John Hillcoat, the movie, based on true events, focuses on their conflict with a new special deputy, played by Guy Pierce, who aims at taking them down. It was nice to get a slower paced character drama as we end summer and ease into the fall movie season, but don’t expect to be blown away by this movie.
The best part of this movie is the performances. I was worried about seeing Shia LaBeouf in a dramatic role. I’ve never been a huge fan of his, and felt that he wouldn’t do much after Transformers except being type-casted as the goofy kid who has trouble with girls. Most of the movie focuses on him, showing his rise through his family empire and how it affects his ego. It was great to see some true hurt and emotion from him as an actor, but unfortunately these scenes come near the end, and soon after the film ends.
In my opinion, Tom Hardy is going to be one of the best actors of our generation. His performance as the leader of the brothers is a good one, but not as memorable as some of his more recent movies. Jessica Chastain does her job well as the love interest in the movie, but nothing special. Despite big advertising, Gary Oldman doesn’t have much screen time, but like all of his other performances, he does a great job, leaving you wishing he had a bigger role. The best performance of all by far is Guy Pearce. As the main antagonist, every time he was on screen I was on the edge of my seat, not being able to predict what his next move was. I’m surprised there hasn’t been much Oscar buzz around his performance, but I’m sure there will be once we are closer to them.
Like his two previous films (The Proposition, The Road) director John Hillcoat is able to capture the scenery beautifully. The 1930’s deep south is almost a character itself, and I was in
awe of the backdrops these characters interacted with. When I heard that John Hillcoat was the director I was excited because I am a fan of his work. I was definitely expecting more out of him. My biggest problem with the movie was I wasn’t really rooting for the main characters.
They weren’t really relatable, and their relationships didn’t evoke enough of an emotional response in me. The main reason I didn’t want any of them to die was because I was enjoying their performances too much. With a forgettable and underwhelming climax, Lawless didn’t leave me breathless, but I didn’t walk away unhappy either. It’s a movie with great performances and scenery, but with forgettable relationships and not enough emotion. It won’t win best picture, but you will be entertained.