LAWLESS

Now here is a movie about which I had no great expectations and yet ended up absolutely loving. Imagine if BONNIE AND CLYDE had a happy ending. That’s a sketchbook way to describe alt-rock whiz Nick Cave’s screenplay of a true-life memoir about the Bondurant boys in Prohibition-era Virginia. Like B&C, this is a (hygienically) cleaned-up look at the 30’s — story in the service of style, with drop-dead costuming (Shia LeBouef’s suits, Mia Wasikowska’s dress, Tom Hardy’s dusty duds), perfect scruff, and thick sexy hair. And like B&C, it’s all about star power. LeBouef, Hardy and Jessica Chastain are camera catnip, electrifying on screen, with complimentary acting styles that pull them together like family. (Jason Clarke capably rounds out the brotherly trio.) You couldn’t ask for a better villain than Guy Pearce, whose hatefulness swells like a tumor from his first scene — making his ultimate demise one of the movie’s only small disappointments: the final shootout is shot haphazardly, making it difficult to identify who’s shooting who and why. And the coup de grace doesn’t seem — well, painful enough for all that Pearce’s character has done. A small complaint; this is one to see. — Jeff Schultz

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