Lawless follows the story of the Bondurant brothers – bootleggers in a small village in Virginia during the 1930’s prohibition. They make and sell whiskey and are somewhat of a legend in the village. Forrest, the eldest (Tom Hardy) seems to be invincible, escaping from the clutches of death many a times and he is the protector of the family. But troubles start when a special deputy, Rakes (Guy Pearce) and his associates want a cut in the profits which obviously the Bondurant brothers refuse to give. What starts as a cat and tiger chase ends in tragedy and murder.
Lawless is brutal in the way of violence and this is broken with the love stories of Forrest and Jack, the youngest brother played by Shia LaBeouf with Maggie (Jessica Chastain) and Bertha, the preachers daughter (Mia Wasikowska). They provide welcome respite to a grim and vicious cycle of guns and fistfights.
The acting is good overall especially Tom Hardy as the grunting protector with few words and Shia LaBeouf with his machismo and zealous attitude. Chastain and Wasikowska are somewhat wasted and Gary Oldman as the fierce mobster doesn’t have much to do too. Jason Clarke as Howard Bondurant, the middle one is also a ghostly presence, being in the frame when required.
Special mention to Guy Pearce who is an animal, a vicious being with only greed and revenge in his blood. He is super in the movie.
The music is good with many southern and country songs performed by The Bootleggers and the look of the movie is great to watch. The brown hued lensing gives the movie a rustic look. The costumes, especially of Chastain transports you to the prohibition-era. John Hillcoat (The Road fame) directs a movie that could have been a gem but it misses to make use of many talents of its star studded cast.
That aside, I felt Lawless is not as popular as it could be – it is definitely worth a watch.