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In the Dark

Lawless Enforcement

Lawless
Produced by Benaroya Pictures
Directed by John Hillcoat
Screenplay by Nick Cave from the novel by Matt Bondurant
Distributed by The Weinstein Company

 

Whenever I think of Prohibition movies, I inevitably see Jimmy Cagney smiling rakishly as he shrugs his shoulders to make sure his double-breasted jacket drapes just so.  He’s the city-boy gangster dressed in high fashion, from his rolled Homburg to his gleaming wing tips.  He has made his money on illegal booze, and he feels no need to apologize for it.  He’s fast, lithe, utterly engaging, and, when necessity arises, absolutely ruthless.  Except, of course, when it comes to his mom, to whom he’s unflaggingly devoted.

I’m sorry to say you won’t find a Cagney aspirant in Lawless, the Prohibition-era film about the underappreciated Bondurant brothers, adapted from Matt Bondurant’s novelization of the story of his grandfather and uncles during the Great Depression.  No tailored suits here, at least not in the early scenes.  These fellers are hicks in bib overalls making a cloudy moonshine potent enough to kick a mule into next week.  Their brew also keeps the neighbors—including the local constabulary, who are happy to ignore the brothers’ business as long as a goodly supply of hooch...

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