After their incisive collaboration on the sinewy Aussie western The Proposition, director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave relocate effectively to Prohibition-era Virginia for this crunching adaptation of Matt Bondurant’s fact-based novel The Wettest County in the World.
When Washington outlaws the local moonshine stills, legendary hard man Tom Hardy is determined to resist, leaving his rather less brawny sibling Shia LaBeouf caught in the middle when battle is joined with local sheriffs and Guy Pearce’s ruthless incoming big-city FBI agent. The imposing Hardy (fresh from his standout turn as Batman’s masked nemesis Bane) talks the talk and walks the walk in this beautifully mounted latter-day take on the full-blooded Roger Corman period gangster flicks of the early ‘70s. We take the point that the mayhem arises when the authorities try to enforce the unenforceable, the resulting conflict proving make-or-break for all parties involved.
Multi-talented Cave also contributes to the mighty country-blues score, showcasing the golden voice of Emmylou Harris. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)