What is Lawless? Well it’s a movie. But what is it? Is it True Life? Gangster? Time Piece? Action? Romance? Can a movie be all of these things? Yes, it can, but, can it be all of these things and not only survive but thrive? Well, yes. And that is what Lawless is, a tale of survival, survival of the fittest by those who are willing to do what needs to be done.
The Wettest County In The World.
Lawless is based on a true story, a book written by the grand-child of one of the three main characters: Forrest, Jack, and Howard Bondurant. It tells the tale of the three brothers running a moonshine operation during prohibition in the United States and what happens when the law becomes too corrupt for even the criminals to tolerate. From what I have read the movie adheres relatively closely to the story, and deviates only on the basis of a few character personalities and the significance of their roles in the story.
Right off the bat the movie sets it’s three key features cinematography, violence, and the bonds of family. Despite any other shortcomings, this is where this movie excels. It is shot excellently and with a clear eye towards presenting the region and the time accurately. Set in Virginia the movie was shot almost exclusively in the South East US, and the wardrobes appear accurate to my incredibly untrained eye. For example with the wardrobe, a lot of the characters will wear the same and/or similar outfits throughout the movie fitting with the Depression era time period. And then of course there’s Tom Hardy’s Forrest Bondurant and his god damn cardigan, but we’ll get to that in a few minutes.
The other way the cinematography of this movie is important is in the way it conveys the violence. The violence is a key element to why I enjoyed this film. It is a necessary part of the film, and it does not disappoint. It’s not just how it’s worked into the story, but also the fact that it is portrayed on an incredible level of realism. Each and every skin splitting stab or throat crushing punch comes across in a way I haven’t encountered in a movie before. And yet, the film manages to do all this without coming off as an over-the-top gorefest action flick. As I said earlier, it’s an important part of the film.
Forrest Bondurant And His God Damn Cardigan.
Let me open by saying I have never worn a cardigan. I have tried a couple on. I recognize and acknowledge their stylistic elements, and even admire the scholarly/old man lounge aspects of them. However, I have never before recognized the cardigan as a symbol of masculinity and, well, menace.
That is until I watched this movie and watched Tom Hardy play the movies main ass kicker, Forrest Bondurant. Throughout possibly 95% of this movie Forrest is portrayed as wearing a cardigan with little change up between vest and shirt and then sweater and shrit underneath (I’m assuming mainly only to show the passing of time and changing of the season.) But good god, does he own that cardigan. In a way it’s almost as if it’s normally unassuming drape somehow amplifies the violence he bestows on those who cross him.
I guess I should mention that Shia “The Beef” LaBeouf is in this movie. I think he’s kind of supposed to be the star? He does the narrating and has the most developed romantic story line. But, this is all I can ever think of when I see The Beef anymore: that he’s a cannibal.
In conclusion, I truly enjoyed this film. It’s not a critical acclaimed time period masterpiece, nor is it a billion dollar blockbuster. More important than both of those, it’s good and it’s enjoyable. The story is presented well, the characters and intriguing and engaging, and it is visually admirable.