Inspired by the true life story of the Bondurant Brothers of the 1930s in Virginia, Lawless is one of those peculiar movies with an A-list pedigree but which emerges as a decidedly B-grade movie product. Essentially, it tells the tale of three brothers thicker than thieves who are also smalltime thieves with bigtime plans. They are bootleggers, providing their customer base with moonshine and other illegal assorted “goods”, which brings them into conflict with the seedy underworld of Prohibition Era America (yes, boys and girls, it was once illegal to drink alcohol in this, the Greatest Nation on Earth).
The movie can’t decide if it’s about the bond between the brothers (played by Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, and Jason Clark) or if it’s a historical semi-epic, which in the hands of a better director wouldn’t have been an issue (remember The King’s Speech?). Director John Hillcoat has a tendency to make overwrouyght movies that inevitably get caught taking themselves too seriously or in too many directions, which dilutes the overall quality of the final product. He is, you will recall, responsible for the sorta-great but sorta awful movies like The Proposition and The Road. Clearly, he feels an affinity for the classic Western (though technically Lawless is set on the East coast).
The oddest thing about this movie is that Jessica Chastain agreed to the role of Maggie. For an actress who’s been heralded as “the Next Meryl Streep”, thsi role is definitely a letdown considering she’s executing a purely ornamental role that requires nothing of her but to be coquettish and pretty. Mia Wasikowska, on the other hand, makes her brief role as Bertha Minnix infinitely more interesting because she isn’t burdened with the need to be “pretty”. If only the director knew how to make his female characters more interesting.View All Photos ›