Violence in Virginia: Moonshiners vs. the law in Franklin County
Lawless is a well-made film about ignorant and violent people. Like Killer Joe of four weeks ago, I can only admire the craftsmanship and acting, and regret its failure to rise above them. Its characters live by a barbaric code that honors murder. They live or die in a relentless hail of gunfire. It's not so much that the movie is too long, as that too many people must be killed before it can end.
I don't require movies to be about good people, and I don't reject screen violence. The Australian director of Lawless, John Hillcoat, made a film named The Proposition in 2005 that was also about a band of brothers up against a ruthless lawman, and it was one of the best films of that year. Based loosely on fact, it was written by the musician Nick Cave, and perhaps that's why both men were hired to make Lawless, based on a war between Virginia moonshiners and lawmen. Whatever inspired The Proposition is lacking here, however; the characters seem less driven than propelled by a script, and the most villainous is so far over the top he upstages himself
We meet the three Bondurant brothers in Franklin County, VA., during the Prohibition era. They make excellent moonshine and defend their turf without compromise. Into their backwoods domain ventures Special Agent Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce), a fed from Chicago. He works with the none-too-enthusiastic local sheriff's department to do– what? Shut them down? Take them over? Kill them all? Full ReviewRead more on: lawless