Bill I’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

I had no expectations going into this film, and loved being immersed in the time period (1930), the place (rural Virginia), and mileu (band of brothers running a profitable bootlegging business during prohibition). Into this “lawless” county, the wettest in the country supposedly, where the local sheriff and his boys buy the hootch along with everyone else, steps an over the top villain as new law in town, a sadistic dandy played by Guy Pearce, here:

I was thinking of the recent spate of villians, including Michael Shannon in Hit and Run and Bane in Dark Knight Rises (played I realized by Tom Hardy, who here plays the lead brother – I guess a good guy… sort of, at least you root for him), that Pearce out does them all. There’s plenty of blood spilled, guns shot, and even some young courting (Shia LaBeouf as the younger, and wannabe gangster brother out to prove himself, spies the innocent daughter of local Amish-like preacher, Mia Wasikowka, here

Mia Wasikowska Picture

The plot is pretty simple: brothers want to keep selling hooch, Pearce wants to shut them down and ideally kill them, and lots of bad things happen, seemingly without much forethought. The brothers wait around to get attacked, then they fight back brutally. The wonderful Jessica Chastain supplies the female perspective, as a hardened but somehow vulnerable city girl from Chicago looking for a quiet place to live, and becomes the brothers’ bartender/manager/girlfriend in waiting. Jessica, seen here

can convey her thoughts and emotions without saying anything like almost no other actor I know, and look great while doing it. She inhabits a character, usually 180 degrees different from her prior role, that just amazes me. If you want to escape the current 2012 US, and enter another world for a couple of hours, that seems realistic and historical (movie is based on real life brothers, written by one of their gransons), then check this out.

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