Hard Word

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Movie Review by Neil Ryan

Starring: Guy Pearce, Rachel Griffiths, Robert Taylor, Joel Edgerton, Damien Richardson
Director: Scott Roberts

THE HARD WORD is an Australian film borne of unusual real-life events whereby a collective of crooked justice system employees (cops, lawyer, prison governor) conspired to allow convicted felons out on day release so that they could execute pre-planned heists, the proceeds of which were then split for the benefit of all concerned.

THE HARD WORD’s repeat-offence robbers are the three Twentyman brothers: Dale (Guy Pearce) is the smart one, Shane (Joel Edgerton) the short fuse, and Mal (Damien Richardson) the cheery optimist. They are good at what they do: fast, competent, and careful not to hurt anyone, and their reward of a permanent release from prison should be imminent. However, there is a dark cloud on the horizon in the form of their lawyer Frank (Robert Taylor) who is stalling over securing the boys’ release, talking up one last big job, and arousing suspicion as to the true nature of his relationship with Dale’s wife Carol (Rachel Griffiths). And so the scene is set for cross, double-cross, plans gone awry, a maelstrom of mistrust, and the dodgiest English accent outside of the London chimneysweep fraternity.

Although THE HARD WORD is not the finished article, as a debut feature (for writer/director Scott Roberts) it shows much promise. It does not pander to the dictums of American and British gangland cinema: foregoing overwrought mannerisms, designer violence, and brutish ladism for a relatively relaxed approach that is more Coen than Kray brothers. By painting the sibling trio as freewheeling Butch and Sundance types Roberts keeps the viewer on the side of the Twentymans’ and makes a film that will play well to most audiences.

4 out of 6 stars