Lawless, John Hillcoat's latest feature has one hell of a cast, and an old-school western vibe that from its trailer seemingly had a lot of potential. At Cannes however, it seems to be getting mixed reviews, and even those that liked it seem to find it flawed. In terms of Oscar potential it is hard to tell. They are finnicky when it comes to Westerns, sometimes loving them, other times not so much. With mixed reviews like this, it is going to need a big release stateside to remain a contender as we head through the summer and the fall. We also have to remember that these first reactions are from bloggers and Oscar watchers, which sometimes have a different look at things than more mainstream critics, and definitely have a different look than Academy members. We'll just have to wait and see on this one.
Eric Kohn at Indiewire, found the film to be "lame" writing:
"There's a good reason to clobber "Lawless" even though, with its competent cinematography and a likable cast, it stumbles more often than it flies off the rails: Everyone in front and behind the camera can do better than this, and so can the genre. A great revisionist western might resurrect the genre's appeal, but "Lawless" makes the case for a moratorium. The only truly successful ingredient is the bouncy musical accompaniment that underscores several scenes, particularly several covers of the Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat," which oddly fit the setting better than the uninspired scenario. As a result, the ideal way to enjoy "Lawless" is to avoid the movie and just listen to the soundtrack."
Glenn Heath Jr. at Press Play finds flaws, but also some masterful work within the film:
"While Lawless goes astray during an odd prologue mired in voice-over, it’s a genre film with many bold ideas and characterizations. Hillcoat’s ongoing deconstruction of backwoods legends, something he and Cave began to address in the grimy, sweat-soaked The Proposition (2005), takes a more sobering and human turn in Lawless. This is the American outback in all its bloody glory"
Sasha at AD once again points out the flaws, but says that the cast is what ultimately saves the movie and makes it worth watching:
"There are, come to think of it, a few things that don't end up making sense.But you'll probably find you're either with the movie or against it. Even with its flaws, Lawless will be one of the most anticipated films of the year, and, thanks to the ensemble cast, one of the most memorable."