Movies – Compelling gangster tale based on real life

THERE’S no doubting the predilection for violence of director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave. It is there writ large on the screen. This period piece is based on Matt Bondurant’s book The Wettest County in the World, a meticulously researched history of his great uncles, who ran a successful moonshine operation in Franklin County, Virginia, during Prohibition and the Depression.

Legends have grown up around Forrest Bondurant (Hardy), who seems to survive the most relentless assaults on his body. He’s a bull-necked, taciturn chap, very similar to his enforcer brother Howard (Clarke). The brothers dominate the illegal trade in liquor with the sly complicity of local law enforcement.

Jack (LaBeouf), the runt of the family, is dying to be taken seriously by his older siblings. When a chance comes to develop an extra fine vintage of his own with distribution through a Chicago mobster (Gary Oldman in fine form), things start moving fast