What do you get when you cross a western film with a gangster film?
“A wangster. It doesn’t sound good. You’re a wangster, not a real gangster,” said actor Tom Hardy of the genre nickname suggested for his latest film, Lawless.
“Let’s not use that term,” agreed Australian co-star Guy Pearce.
But while the moniker may irritate those in front of the camera, Lawless screen writer and composer Nick Cave was the one to offer the abbreviation.
“It’s a great name. If it’s half western film and half gangster film, it’s a wangster film,” said the forthright Australian singer.
Based on a true story of the infamous three Bondurant brothers in prohibition-era Virginia, Lawless has made its competition premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
For Hardy, who plays likeable hardman Forrest Bondurant, the film’s genre is not the only mixed feature of Lawless.
As the middle sibling and leader of the trio, Forrest falls short of the gangster stereotype.
“He doesn’t drink, he’s a teetotaller, obsessive-compulsive, super-fastidious … very feminine. He’s a matriarch figure,” Hardy told AAP of Forrest.
“Everything is counter-macho. Although the exterior is still bearded, cigar, knuckle dusters, the entire interior landscape is different.”
A violent film, not for the squeamish, Lawless boasts a range of Australian talent, including director John Hillcoat, Cave, Pearce, Jason Clarke and Mia Wasikowska.
Asked what reaction he has received since the film’s premiere, Hillcoat answered: “It’s very volatile at the moment; it could have gone both ways. I’m sure we’ll get kicked in the teeth soon.”
Cave was more optimistic, and in reference to the coveted prize for which Lawless is competing, the Palme d’Or, said: “It’s in the bag.”