Posted October 28, 2012 by William Dunmyer in Drama

Lawless: Boring and Homophobic

John Hillcoat, Australian director of the powerfully bleak “The Road” (2009), has returned with “Lawless,” starring Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy, set in rural Virginia during the Prohibition Era (1920s and early 1930s). “Lawless” has a lot going for it. But there are two huge problems. First and foremost, through many long stretches it is unbearably boring. Unbearably.

Second, it is borderline homophobic, with an over-the-top performance from Guy Pearce as an Evil Gay Man. The subtext of “Lawless” seems to be that there’s a struggle between wholesome straight men in the heartland and perverted, unnatural people (especially gay men) in big cities.

When I heard my theater audience burst into sustained applause when Pearce’s character was murdered on-screen, I felt I had gone through a time doorway back to 1983 with the onset of AIDS, when straight people everywhere were calling for gay men to be put in concentration camps. Thank you, Mr. Hillcoat, for trying to return us to that time. A noble gesture as an artist.

To make the contrast as stark as possible, Hillcoat has the heterosexual heroes surrounded by their wives and children at the end. The triumph of the Heterosexual Family! Down with gay marriage! Shame on Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, and Gary Oldman for contributing to Hillcoat’s repugnant little project.

William Dunmyer

William Dunmyer is a lifelong cinephile who fell in love with movies at about the age of 5. He lives in New York City.