John Hillcoat’s new film Lawless is a bloodthirsty tale set in Virginia in the prohibition era. It’s adapted from the book The Wettest Country in the World by Matt Bondurant and tells the true story of his grandfather and two great uncles, brothers who were in the bootlegging business and abided by their own rules. Local legend has it that the Bondurants were invincible given that they survived a number of near death situations, in which many around them perished.
Tom Hardy stars as the eldest brother, Forrest, the monosyllabic leader of the gang. Tom perfected a deep throaty grunt as a means to communicate in the film, which, combined with his big build and swagger, makes him very hot, despite his penchant for using knuckledusters and cutting off people’s balls. Jessica Chastain plays his love interest Maggie, which means she got to make out with him — awesome. (Side note: at the press conference Tom admitted that he likes to play scrabble between takes on set and I think every female in the audience swooned).
Aussie actor Jason Clarke plays Howard Bondurant, a knife-wielding drunkard who gets all up in the grill of anyone who pisses him off, and Shia LaBeouf plays youngest brother Jack, the token wuss i.e. can’t fire a gun, gets beaten up repeatedly and is not very smooth with the ladies. His lady in question is Mia Wasikowska who looks great in a headscarf, though there’s not much more to add about her performance (which to be fair is a minor role).
Gary Oldman is, as expected, perfect as big city gangster Floyd Banner, but one of the best performances is from Guy Pearce who plays the bad guy — special agent Charles Rakes. Charles uses boot polish as hair product, dresses like a dandy, and takes pleasure in being an all-round asshole. He is enemy #1 for the brothers and is comically camp yet darkly disturbing. “There was a quality to this character where I felt he was so caught up in his own judgement of the world, in his own distaste and disgust, that his vanity played a big part in that,” Guy explained earlier today. “John and I talked early on and there were some things I wanted to do that expressed this … I don’t think we talked about playing it camp, but that might have just been me coming through [laughs].”
Nick Cave wrote the script and the score — his second time working with John after the award-winning film The Proposition. Nick was a particular highlight at the press conference calling one journalist a “son of a bitch” and admitting that he was drawn to the story because he “really loved the kind of classical love stories and the excessive violence. Those two things coming together are just what titillates me — sentimentality and brute violence.”