Thursday, December 6, 2012

John Hillcoat: Lawless

Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Lawless, TWC, 2012.


Hemming the strayed and frayed edges of the Great Depression Gangster picture, Australian auteur John Hillcoat, who heretofore helmed the Western masterpiece The Proposition, followed by an underrated adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, resuscitates that sub-genre with a ferocious, if imperfect vision that is definitely uncompromising.

Tom Hardy, Shia LaBouef, and  Jason Clarke all leave strong impressions as the unbending Bondurant brothers, back hills bootleggers battling the crooked local law, trying to shake them down, and a psychotic gun for hire in a deliciously over the top turn by the simply incomparable Guy Pearce.

Benoit Delhomme's camera work is a patchwork of faded days and nights, while Nick Cave not only adapted an obscure novel into a well structured narrative, he also loaned his musical gifts to the minimalist folk score.

Yet the heart of this bloody, old fashioned tale of vengeance, in which Hillcoat homages 70's movies and Sam Peckinpah in particular, is the intoxicating Jessica Chastain. Riding a high from last year's much deserved Oscar nom for the otherwise worthless The Help, and starring roles in two of said year's best films, Malick's The Tree of Life and Nichols' Take Shelter, Chastain lends the picture a feminine grace. Her wounded strumpet is an angel in disguise, and this swept under the rug movie could not have excelled without her. Here's looking forward to her starring role in Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty!

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