Viewed – 25 September 2012  Cinema

Strange how this movie has been hyped for its violence.  When first hearing of this depression-era crime thriller, the casting of the likes of Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy and Shia Lebeouf were overshadowed by the fact the movie was said to be rather graphic.  Directed by John Hillcoat (The Road) this actually turns out to be pretty much par of the course for gangster-type movies with very little to shock audiences who have seen Goodfellas or HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.  Thankfully what does stand out is three solid performances and an intriguing setting.

The always likable Shia Lebeouf plays one of three brothers who begin a bootlegging moonshine business that attracts the interest of a corrupt lawman (Guy Pearce) who wants in on the brother’s profits, and goes to ruthless, murderous lengths to show he means business.  Lebeouf the more shy, timid of the brothers spends most of his time trying to win over the local preacher’s daughter (Alice In Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska), but when violence escalates, finds himself having to mature fast and face up to his enemies.

The only real let down here is the plot, which proves servicable at best, despite being based on a novel by Matt Bondurant, with a screenplay co-written by alt-rocker Nick Cave (!), but is helped by three solid characters and three decent actors all shining.  Pearce particularly impresses as the tailored, slick corrupt lawman with the worst hair cut in movie history, and a quiet but brutal Tom Hardy once again proves he’s one of the most interesting actors around.  I didn’t really understand the casting of Gary Oldman, who gets very little screen time, and overall this fell short of the greats, down to the rather simplistic plot and an ending that seemed rushed.  If like me however, interesting, larger-than-life characters and good performances can make a movie for you, then this is still worth seeing.

Verdict:  3.5 /5


Viewed 03 Jan 2008  DVD

You wont come across many films like this, where it starts at the end and gradually goes back-wards – add to this the fact the main character has a problem with short term memory – and you’re ready for one of the most unique dramas around.  Guy Pearce who I still can’t shake as that biker lad from TVs Neighbours, plays a man who after witnessing his wife being attacked and raped by an intruder, is tracing the man responsible by piecing together clues in a battle against time as his memory fades within minutes of him experiencing anything post traumatic event.  Cleverly too he tattoos everything he needs to remember on his body and takes Polarides of other important information. 

This impressive second feature from Dark Knight helmer Christopher Nolan, is a very clever spin on the murder-mystery and is watchable but also quite confusing and tricky to follow.  There’s so many red herrings and loose ends and people taking advantage of this man’s memory problem that you come away wondering ‘What the hell have I just watched?’ despite liking it.  The supporting cast is first rate with a decent Carrie-Anne Moss and an always enjoyable Joe Pantoliano, and nobody is exactly who they seem to be.

Probably a touch too clever for its own good, but if you want to watch something a little bit different, this works well enough…but trying to figure it all out could give you a headache.  Oh and honestly, Guy Pearce really should be doing interesting stuff like this more often.

Verdict:  3 /5