Mr. Hardy mostly grunts, growls and ribbits, occasionally interrupting his angry bullfrog impersonation to deliver down-home bromides that make him sound like Toby Keith choking on a Cheeto.
Much of the action may be nearly as grim as in director John Hillcoat's previous feature, "The Road" - "Lawless" is very bloody - but the scenery and production design are a whole lot nicer.
The narrative often seems at odds with the director's pictorialism, trudging when it should be striding toward the climax, isolating the performers on their marks when everything depends on taut blood-ties interconnection.
You can sense the filth, and smell the rust, and feel the ingrained poverty that might well convince a family of survivors (of World War I and the Spanish flu) to make their fortune selling moonshine to their neighbors.
Fans of The Proposition will have to settle for sublimely evil performances by Gary Oldman (as a murderous rival) and Guy Pearce (as a government agent) and a large quotient of gut-wrenching violence.