The three Twentymen brothers Dale (Guy Pierce), Mal (Damien Richardson) and Shane (Joel Edgerton) are all simultaneously released from prison after serving time for theft. The three have appropriately been distinguished with differing characteristics, with Dale being the 'thinker', Mal being the slightly obese 'softy', and Shane the obsessive and quick tempered muscleman, without actually being overly muscly. Before long they reunite with their pre-prison profession together in robbing an armoured truck, taking its contents of a few million bucks to a warehouse where, (here's where it gets interesting) their lawyer, Frank (Robert Taylor) and two crooked cops (Vince Colosimo, Paul Sonkkila) are waiting for the cash. With Frank is Dale's wife (Rachael Griffiths), whom he hasn't seen for two years, and has obviously been cheating on him with Frank the entire time. When the driver of the truck positively identifies Dale's face to the police it is considered to be best for them to return to prison, giving them an alibi, and ensuring they are only behind bars for three weeks, as opposed to twenty years. On their release from prison Frank lures them into another job, yet with Dale becoming suspicious of his motives, and the job being 'out of their territory', not everything ends up as planned…
Scott Roberts has quite effectively created a film bearing many Tarrantino-like resemblances, but manages to avoid cliché with his unique and sardonically brusque focus points. The film benefits greatly from being written by the director, as his intentions for its portrayal clearly carry a sense of purpose, rather than a feeling of another interpretation.
Overall the performances are excellent. Guy Pierce delivers his most convincing performance to date with his casual and thoughtful take on the role of the elusive Dale. Edgerton and Richardson are also fine, highlighting their character personalities to be unique, and cleverly avoid exaggeration. It's good to see Rachael Griffiths back on the big screen after her insertion into the TV show 'Six Feet Under', and she well handles her devious and sexy role as Dale's wife Carol.
At times the film borders on being hard to watch, but is always quick to resolve itself. In retrospect the harder-to-watch images accumulate to give an almost false sense of reality, being both revealing and against the conform of most Hollywood productions. For this reason the film will not reach many people on the level it intended, but at the same time it will draw in any audience with its original and smooth-running approach to situations.
The Hard Word is a very fresh film carrying a uniquely Australian flavour, but still manages to remain relatable to that of the wider global audience. Fans of Tarrantino should find much comfortable home ground in the films' topic matter, but they will find many surprises in its portrayal and focus.
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