John Hillcoat’s third major film, based on a novel (in turn based on a true story), sees him take on a family of moonshiners in Prohibition-era Virginia. Again, he teams up with Nick Cave who scripted and (with fellow Bad Seed Warren Ellis) scored.
I enjoyed Hillcoat’s first international success, the Australian revenge-Western The Proposition, very much. On the other hand, 2009’s ultra-bleak The Road made for pretty tough watching, though it had a rare quality of grim fascination. Lawless is less successful than either, having neither the ripping-yarn story of the former nor the single-minded tautness of the latter.
Hillcoat and Cave have high hopes for their film – it’s pitched toward ‘epic’ taking on grand themes: family, vengeance, justice, redemption. In its dreams, Lawless would be a kind of Sergio Leone-scripted mountain man re-imagining of The Godfather, albeit focusing on Shia LaBeouf’s Fredo-a-like runt of the litter.