Movie Review: Lawless

Movie Screening in Conjunction with Endowed Lecture

Sidney Beck, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, VA- “Lawless” is a fantastic film that accurately depicts the life of the Bondurant brothers. In the 1930s, the brothers ran an illegal moonshine business during Prohibition. The story is told by the youngest brother, Jack Bondurant, and the movie is based on the book The Wettest County in the World written by Matt Bondurant. 

“Lawless” was directed by John Hillcoat, who also directed “The Road,” “Triple 9,and “The Proposition.” It stars Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy, who play the Bondurant brothers. Other actors in the film are Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska, Dane DeHaan, and Gary Oldman. 

The film shows the divide between city and country people at the time. The head sheriff deputy, as well as other characters, are from Chicago; while the brothers were from Franklin County, which is a more rural area. The movie shows the divide with strong accents, different styles of clothing, and attitudes. This divide between characters also creates more emphasis on the historical accuracy of the entire film. 

The film is a historic depiction of what the Boundurant brothers and other moonshiners in Franklin County, Va., went through in the 1930s. Police, prohibition laws, and other moonshiners are just a few obstacles the brothers faced. 

The main conflict of the story is when law enforcement in the area was abusing its power to shut down the bothers’ moonshine business. The deputy from Chicago was killing other moonshiners and essentially starting a war between the moonshiners in the area and the law enforcement. 

The film does have some vulgar scenes such as shootouts and assaults, and a gory scene involving a knife. The film also contains strong language. While these scenes were probably accurate to the storyline, they are not easy to watch. 

The film also shows how degrading men could be towards women, how women were not treated with much respect, and the segregation between whites and blacks that existed during that time period. Each of these elements, while uncomfortable, add to the historical accuracy. 

Overall, “Lawless” is a good film with a true storyline. The film is interesting in the way that it lets the audience look into the life of the Bondurant brothers and see what lengths they went to in order to survive and make a living. It also does a good job at exposing the audience to the rich Prohibition Act history that exists in the area of Franklin County.

Matt Bounduraunt, the grandson of Jack Bondurant, one of the original Bondurant brothers, is coming to Bridgewater College on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 7:30 p.m., to give an endowed lecture. His novel is the inspiration behind the film and it tells the true story of his grandfather and two great uncles.