Lawless (2012)

A movie about a family of prohibition-era bootleggers and their involvement with gangsters and crooked cops in rural Virginia wouldn’t usually be my first pick for a movie night. Tell me Nick Cave wrote the screenplay and did the soundtrack, and things change very, very quickly.

The Bondurant Brothers.

Before I say anything else about this movie, I have a confession to make: I love Nick Cave. When I say love, I mean love, like, capital L-O-V-E love. So, needless to say, I walked into Lawless with more than just a slight bias. That being said, I know Nick isn’t perfect – I still make daily attempts to forget that Nocturama is a legitimate album in his discography, and while I liked the soundtrack to The Road, it did indeed leave a little something to be desired.

Lawless is by no means a perfect movie: it’s a bit long, a tad too violent, and even downright cutesy at times, if you can believe it. Ultimately, though, it has Nick Cave written all over it, and that is a darn good thing in my book. I couldn’t help but notice how much this movie reminded me of Cave’s first novel And the Ass Saw the Angel. Both involve moonshiners in the south, swamps, crows, and fucked-up churches. Seeing as how that novel is nearly impossible to film, I guess adapting Matt Bondurant’s The Wettest County in the World for the big screen is the next best thing. I read Bondurant’s novel a few years ago in anticipation for this film, and from what I can remember, Cave writes a fairly faithful adaptation. The problem is, it isn’t really a very good book.

Creepy-ass Guy Pearce!

Lame plot turns aside, I found this movie to be super enjoyable. Even though it was loaded with guts and gore (too much even for me at times) it still maintained a sense of humor, which I think is one of Cave’s trademarks, and one of my favorite aspects of him as an artist. I can’t speak for what non-Cave fans might think of this movie, though – honestly a lot of the time I felt like he was sitting next to me, elbowing me in the ribs, saying “doesn’t this scene remind you of Tupelo?” or “Remember those crows flying above Euchrid’s head? That’s where this shot comes from.”

can say I enjoyed all the actors’ performances – even tiny li’l Shia LaBeouf! Tom Hardy, to my infinite enjoyment, plays a nearly-all-grunting role as the eldest Bondurant brother Forrest. Guy Pearce, who played a hero in Cave’s The Proposition, here plays the polar opposite: an absolutely despicable, creepy, nasty man who, I’ve read, scared children on the set of this film with his eyebrowless face!

Last but not least: the soundtrack. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis make an awesome pair (sorry, Mick Harvey, stop being jealous). Here they’ve included some anachronistic covers, including this awesome cover of The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat.

Basically, this movie’s a Cave-fan cream dream. If you’re not a Cave fan, well, first of all, you’re totally fucking missing out. Secondly, I still think there’s enough entertainment value wrapped up in this two-hour movie to make it worth your while. Thirdly, listen to Nick Cave.


1 Response to “Lawless (2012)”

  1. 1 ladyfaceladyface
    August 31, 2012 at 4:24 am

    You love Nick Cave?

    Doesn’t he live in Brighton? Come and visit.

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