Film: Lawless has ingredients for success
September 7th, 2012
Omaha, NE – Mashing together film noir and a western sounds like a good time, but does it hang together? From the Movieha podcast, Ryan Syrek and Matt Lockwood take a look Lawless.
Ryan: I love moonshine as much as the next guy.
Matt: Uh, I once rode the white lightning for 72 hours straight until I went blind for a month.
Ryan: I love moonshine almost as much as the next guy. Just about the only way to make me less enthusiastic about a moonshine movie is to cast Shia LaBeouf as the star.
Matt: Shia LaBeouf stars in Lawless, a moonshine movie that follows a real life trio of bad boy brothers who made and sold gut-rot liquor during prohibition. Tom Hardy is the eldest brother and the leader of the pack. He doesnâ€™t say much, sometimes even grunting instead of talking, but he can murder people in the face at the drop of a hat.
Ryan: LaBeouf plays the runt of the litter, and as the youngest, he wants in on the family business. But when an eyebrowless dandy played by Guy Pearce shows up as a special deputy in the small town, he demands a cut of the action or heâ€™ll shut the boys operation down. This, of course, leads to a good old war with good old boys, with the lovely Jessica Chastain stuck right in the middle.
Matt: The take home message is that the movie is fun. Sure, itâ€™s flawed, it spends too much time on the least interesting character, played by Mr. Boof, and neglects awesome potential subplots like the one featuring Gary Oldman as a tommy gun toting gangster. But still, itâ€™s basically a good time.
Ryan: I canâ€™t argue, but I can wish for a bit more. Director John Hillcoat and writer Nick Cave, yes the creepy singer Nick Cave, previously put forth The Proposition, which while super disturbing was really damn good. So itâ€™s kind of a bummer that Lawless feels so slight. All of the ingredients needed for something truly classic and great were here: Antihero Americans, Jessica Chastain, a troubled town with great characters, Jessica Chastain. But something just doesnâ€™t come together.
Matt: I agree that spending more time on Hardyâ€™s character would have been best, as would choosing to skimp on side stories like The Boofâ€™s weird amish love interest. But it had enough quality moments to keep me happy.
Ryan: Yeah, I suppose itâ€™s kind of like moonshine itself. You would prefer something that tastes better and is a bit classier, but this time of year, youâ€™ll take any film entertainment that gets the job done. Lawless is basically cinematic corn whiskey, with somewhat lower chance of permanent blindness.
Editorial note: The Movieha podcast is produced in partnership with The Reader and is available at thereader.com.
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