Bada$$ Gangsta Cowboy Brothers (Or, what I learned from Lawless)

No 1. and I went to see Lawless today. We had pretty low expectations, after having disliked most of the previous four or so movies we’ve spent the time and money to see in the theater, but we loved this one! While we were in the theater, I thought the action and small (but welcome) bits of comic relief were what I liked most about the movie but as we discussed it on the drive home, I realized the characters were what I really loved.

First, a disclosure: I wanted to see Lawless because I thought it was about badda$$ gansta cowboy brothers, a demographic I find thoroughly underrepresented in Hollywood. After having been pulled in by multiple cable network shows over the past few years (True Blood, The Tudors, House of Lies, Homeland, Dexter, Game of Thrones, etc…) I’ve been really craving a western done at that same standard. Over-the-top but mostly-believable violence, great characters, great writing, and addictive story-lines. I think that could be awesome, whether or not it’s also paranormal. Dame Devon’s Age of Steam novels give me that fix (steampunk cowboys!!!). Cowboys and Aliens was almost there. Jonah Hex was a complete fail for me. Firefly was the best space western ever! And I keep meaning to check out Hatfields & McCoys on the History Channel. But I can’t help thinking that if HBO or Showtime gave bad$$ cowboys a chance, it’d be a total hit.

But I digress…

The only part of those expectations for Lawless that I got right was the “bada$$ brothers” part. And boy were they. Tom Hardy was at his best as Forrest, the middle brother who doesn’t take sh– from anyone, and speaks loudly without saying much at all. He grunted for most of the movie, and I loved him. The oldest, Howard, was the too-crazy-to-fu– with brother, who was perpetually drunk on his own product (moonshine) and…well…was too crazy to fu– with.

Shia Labeouf played the baby of the family, who wanted to be a Bordwalk Empire-style gangster, but was stuck in a tiny Appalachian town. He was headstrong, impulsive, sometimes outright stupid, and impossible not to fall for. And again, the acting was really great.

But the best part of the movie was the three brothers together. Their bond–complicated and enhanced by conflict anyone with siblings would understand–was fascinating, heartwarming, and unbreakable.

On the way home from the movie, I realized I’ve been drawn to sibling stories for quite some time now. Which may be why the Sanders family bond was such a central theme in the Shifters books. And why the Hudson brothers are close, yet…not. And why Kori Daniels and her brother and sister kind of took over the Unbound trilogy, when I truly didn’t see that coming.

I don’t really have a point with this, other than that I loved Lawless, and–evidently–I love stories about siblings who share both an intense love for one another and an intense rivalry or resentment.

But aside from that, I’m fascinated by how much I learn about myself as a person and as a writer every time I read–or watch–a good story, then devote some serious thought to the reason I connected with the story as much as I did.

Do you guys ever learn something about yourselves based on how you react to stories?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *