In 1931, in Franklyn County, Virginia, Forrest Bondurant is a legend as immortal after surviving the war. Together with his brothers Howard and the coward Jack, the Bondurant family has a distillery and bootlegging business. When the corrupt District Attorney Mason Wardell arrives in Franklyn with the unscrupulous Special Deputy Charles Rakes, the Bondurant family refuses to pay the required bribe to the authorities. Rakes pursuits the brothers and unsuccessfully tries to find their distillery. Meanwhile Forrest hires the waitress Maggie, a woman with a hidden past in Chicago, and they fall in love with each other. Jack courts the preacher's daughter Bertha Minnix and deals a great load of alcoholic liquor with the powerful gangster Floyd Banner. Jack shows off in Franklyn attracting the attention of Rakes that finds the location of their distillery. When he kills the crippled Cricket Pate, the locals join forces to face the corrupt authorities. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The movie is based on actual events, as explained in the book "The Wettest County in the World" (2008) written by Matt Bondurant. Matt Bondurant is the grandson of Jack Bondurant, the character played by Shia LaBeouf in the film. See more »
When Floyd Banner is arriving in his car and stopping to eliminate his competitor, you can hear the sound of tires screeching on pavement. However he's driving on a dirt road. See more »
It is a period piece, set in Prohibition era America, that attempts to reflect a true story honestly, and without too much blatant dramatisation. Performances are strong. Tom Hardy is excellent as always, as the central flawed but principled character looking after his local interests. With Guy Pearce providing an excellent counter balance as the despicable and amoral government high-flier on the scene to exploit and 'uphold the law'. Shia LaBeouf was far better than I expected him to be in such exulted company - given his character's inherent flaws in this film, immature and impulsive, being not unlike other characters he has played, he was able to hold his own.
The story itself did not feel particularly original, regardless of it's authenticity, and was therefore presented to us in a way that we should invest more in the characters themselves. Unfortunately the characters were not engaging enough or fully fleshed out, and the outcome of the story itself was unfulfilling. I recently watched Margaret, and intensely character driven film with a serious running time and a message, but a less coherent story - which worked. I actually felt that Lawless should have been longer, with more character development or that the shorter running time be used to present a more coherent and engaging story. In the end it never fully managed to achieve either.
It was this hybrid nature that made Lawless a difficult film to really enjoy. I was never sure what I was watching, and so failed to fully invest in the characters,or be entertained by the story as it unfolded.
I would still recommend watching Lawless, as it is well made enough with great actors that you may find nuances in the film that I was unable, or unwilling, to fully appreciate. That said, I would not go out of your way to seek this film out, as you may ultimately be disappointed with what you find.
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