The Prohibition-era drama “Lawless,” from director John Hillcoat (“The Road“), had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in the south of France this past Saturday, where it’s in competition, along with 21 other films, for the Palm d’Or.
Saturday was day four of Cannes, which opened last Wednesday with the premiere of Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom.”
Most of the reviews that have come out for “Lawless” have been positive, with many accolades going to the impressively large and talented cast, who were on hand in Cannes to debut their film.
The cast includes Jessica Chastain (“The Help,””The Tree of Life”), Shia LaBeouf (“Transformers”), Tom Hardy (“Warrior,””Inception”), Gary Oldman (“The Fifth Element,””Batman Begins”), Mia Wasikowska (“Alice in Wonderland,””Jane Eyre”), Guy Pearce (“The Hurt Locker,””The King’s Speech”), and Jason Clarke (“Public Enemies”). Relative newcomer, Dane DeHaan (“Chronicle”), also stars.
Based on the Matt Bondurant novel, “The Wettest County in the World,” the film “Lawless” tells the story of the three Bondurant brothers, Jack (LaBeouf), Forrest (Hardy), and Howard (Clarke), as they illegally run moonshine through Virginia in the 1930s, and become outlaws when they refuse to give a cut of their profits to corrupt law enforcement officials. One of the more sadistic and morally-compromised of these law officials is Special Agent Charlie Rakes, played by Pearce.
In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, director John Hillcoat said that when he first thought about adapting Bondurant’s novel for the screen, he saw a way of blending two different genres:
“When I read the book, I thought, here’s a fresh way at looking at a gangster film. I also love westerns, and this seemed to straddle both since the outlaws are in the Appalachian countryside.”
And in an interesting move, Hillcoat recruited Nick Cave, of “Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds,” to write the screenplay for “Lawless.” Which doesn’t seem all that strange when you take into account the film’s anti-authority tone, and as producer Doug Wick explains, part of the film is “understanding the celebration of rebellion.”
VIDEO: Watch the trailer for ‘Lawless’
The female side of the story is Bertha (Wasikowska), the preacher’s daughter who has a wild streak, and Maggie (Chastain), a former burlesque dancer who is now bartending for the Bondurants. Chastain was recommended to Hillcoat by Terrence Malick, who had just worked with her on his film “Tree of Life.”
The “Lawless” premiere took place on Saturday evening, at the Palais des Festivals, and the only member of the cast absent was Gary Oldman.
PHOTOS: See the cast of ‘Lawless’ at the Cannes Film Festival
“Lawless” is currently set for theatrical release in the U.S. on August 31, 2012.
See more Cannes coverage:
Cannes 2012: Marion Cotillard debuts ‘Rust and Bone’
Cannes 2012: The festival kicks off in the south of France
Photos: Cannes over the years
Video: Watch the trailer for the festival opener ‘Moonrise Kingdom’
Shannon Dockrill is a regular contributor at Examiner, currently writing articles for the Portland Film and Portland Indie Film Industry columns. If you would like to receive notifications of Shannon’s future articles via email, please hit the “subscribe” button at the top of the page. You can also visit her Facebook page here.