Lawless (2012)


The only appropriate aperitif for a film like this is a dusty ol’ bottle of Moonshine.

In small towns across West Virginia during the era of prohibition, a new alcoholic spirit swept the underground market, called Moonshine. It was the slang term for high-proof distilled liquor that were produced illicitly, without government authorization. Though, distilling consumable alcohol outside of a registered distillery still remains illegal in the United States and most countries around the world, in recent years, commercial products labeled as “moonshine” have seen a resurgence of popularity as a nod to the nostalgia of the highly concentrated alcohol percentage in these spirits.

The term “Moonshine” historically referred to “clear, unaged whiskey”, once made with barley in Scotland and Ireland or corn mash in the United States, until sugar became just as common in illicit liquor during the last century. In the film, sugar was the source ingredient to their recipe.

Below is a list of most popular Moonshine brands to buy in America:

Western Film Series #16:

“Lawless” (2012) was directed by John Hillcoat (who prior to this, made “The Road” in 2009 – based off the dystopian novel, and “The Proposition” in 2005), and this was by far his most notable film up to this point. It stars Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastein and Shia LaBeouf who all bring us top notch, powerhouse performances and fit seamlessly into this gritty Western atmosphere.

When something becomes illegal, there emerges a black market for it. This is the story that takes place in West Virginia during the United States prohibition, when it was illegal to make, distribute or consumer alcohol. It is also the true story of the notorious “Bondurant boys.” It is 1931 and a trio of brothers, the Bondurant family, run a bootlegged liquor operation. The middle brother, Forrest (Tom Hardy) is the brain of the operation, while the eldest (Howard played by Jason Clarke) is the muscle, while the youngest and most eager to impress, Jack (Shia LaBeouf), the lookout.

This was one of Shia Labeouf’s first major performances, following his many appearances in the ultimate bro-loving “Transformers,” and this allowed him to showcase his real acting chops, which we were then able to enjoy many times again after this film. He carries much of “Lawless” on his shoulders, seeing that his fellow lead, Tom Hardy hardly has to do more than grunt his dialogue. There are a ton of compelling performances in this film, each adding small moments that elevate the action into a visceral experience in storytelling. Jessica Chastein, Mia Wasikowska, Gary Oldman, and probably most crucially Guy Pierce – who will send shivers down your spine as the warped and ferocious police agent working to shut the brothers down.

It is a hard-hitting film that has a lot of fun with its most badass characters. An underrated star, Gary Oldman blazes onto the scene, guns out, in his memorable introduction. And Chastein is mesmerizing as Maggie, seducing Forrest delicately and with a quiet confidence that knocks him off his balance.

The cinematography was masterfully done by Benoît Delhomme who looks beyond the violence and the dust, and captures the tension in the character dynamics at play. There are simultaneous love stories happening alongside the threat of battle, which helps to unmask the brawny crew and humanize them. The film is also chiefly a story about a family, working to hold all the pieces in place as their foundation is disrupted.

It’s not violence that sets men apart. It’s the distance that he is willing to go.” How far will the trio go to protect their name, their operation and their liquor?

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