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The story of bootlegging brothers

Busy backwoods doings and a drawling tone are alternately perfect complements and slightly at odds in “Lawless” (2012), the fictionalized true story of bootlegging brothers in Prohibition-era rural Virginia. Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, and Jason Clarke are the Bondurants, a moonshine-running clan whose comfortable cornpone existence is disrupted by the arrival of corrupt “lawman” Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce, with plucked eyebrows to project citified dandy). But their escalating conflict is only part of the story. Just as prominent is the tension between LaBeouf’s Jack, a would-be player limited by his timorous streak, and Hardy’s Forrest, who’s so quietly intimidating, the locals have him figured for “invincible.” Then there’s the unspoken attraction between Forrest and sexy, damaged Maggie (Jessica Chastain); Jack’s preening pursuit of a minister’s daughter (Mia Wasikowska); and, for good measure, Jack’s awe of a gangster on the lam (Gary Oldman, swell in a cameo). It’s a lot going on all at once. And that’s where the atmosphere captured by director John Hillcoat gets tricky: The pace is a bit countrified, the focus a bit meandering, to supply all the rat-a-tat urgency and momentum the climax demands. Extras: Featurettes spend plenty of time with author Matt Bondurant, Jack’s grandson, whose historical novel “The Wettest County in the World” was adapted for the screenplay. You’ll wish for more from screenwriter (and rocker) Nick Cave, who previously plied his sideline trade on Hillcoat’s western “The Proposition.” (Anchor Bay, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99)


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