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.
Year of production
Articles and Reviews
The Hollywood Reporter
"After proving to be a problematic fit for the grim post-apocalyptic existentialism of The Road, director John Hillcoat is back on more fert...
"After proving to be a problematic fit for the grim post-apocalyptic existentialism of The Road, director John Hillcoat is back on more fertile turf with Lawless, a muscular slice of grisly Americana rooted in flavorful Prohibition-era outlaw legend. While a touch overlong and not as distinctive as his last collaboration with screenwriter Nick Cave, the Australian Western The Proposition, the new film is more commercially accessible, fueled by a brooding sense of dread, visceral bursts of violence, potent atmosphere and some juicy character portraits from a robust cast. [...]"
"Benoit Delhomme’s widescreen visuals have a handsome epic sweep. The earthy sepia tones and shadowy interiors are shuffled with crisp skies and green forestland covered with vines and tangled willows. The evocative feel for time and place is furthered byChris Kennedy’s rustic period production design and Margot Wilson’s sharp costumes.
As in The Proposition, Cave’s contribution extends to an indispensable score, co-written with Warren Ellis. (The team also provided music for Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, a film that some will no doubt say the less nuanced Lawless aspires to be.) Their score here mixes rootsy bluegrass, gospel, country and contemporary songs reinterpreted by Emmylou Harrisand Ralph Stanley, among others.
If Lawless doesn’t achieve the mythic dimensions of the truly great outlaw and gangster movies, it is a highly entertaining tale set in a vivid milieu, told with style and populated by a terrific ensemble. For those of us who are suckers for blood-soaked American crime sagas from that era, those merits will be plenty."
"Thankfully, Lawless doesn't take itself too seriously, with its pretensions toward gravitas repeatedly punctured by Nick Cave's rough but e...
"Thankfully, Lawless doesn't take itself too seriously, with its pretensions toward gravitas repeatedly punctured by Nick Cave's rough but effective screenplay, which traffics in crude humor and violent set pieces. Because the movie remains so firmly focused on functioning as pure entertainment, flaws like a botched central conflict and cardboard female characters don't detract as much as they might. The film elevates pulp fare with the trappings of prestige, even as it dares itself to go as nasty as possible: Great sound design can convey both the delicate rustle of autumn leaves and the rotten-tomato smush of a forceful punch to a goiter. A colorful, carefully paced, and deliriously violent update of gangster archetypes, it's the perfect bridge between the senseless blather of summer and the hollow pomposity of awards season."
"Moonshine, machismo and rivers of gore make for a heady brew in Lawless, Australian helmer John Hillcoat's stylishly assembled Prohibition-...
"Moonshine, machismo and rivers of gore make for a heady brew in Lawless, Australian helmer John Hillcoat's stylishly assembled Prohibition-era gangster pic, and his second American-set film after 2009’s post-apocalyptic ramble “The Road.” Redolent of Hillcoat’s previous collaborations with musician-screenwriter Nick Cave, this classy genre piece doesn’t quite leave an emotional burn in the gut the way “The Proposition” did, but for those with a strong stomach for onscreen violence, it will hit the spot."