The Hard Word

"Good"

The Hard Word Review


The snappy caper: A planned-to-a-T, multi-million dollar racetrack robbery wrought with the danger of a double-cross.

The snappy cast: A sharp cadre of Aussies led by Guy Pearce and Rachel Griffiths (two of that country's finest acting exports) as a magnetically smug life-long greaseball and his playing-both-sides-against-her-own-middle tart of a disloyal wife.

The practical upshot: "The Hard Word" is a wily, performance-driven heist-gone-wrong picture with shrewd underworld savvy reminiscent of "Snatch" without the smug self-awareness.

From his first moment on screen Pearce is, well, piercing as Dale Twentyman, "the smart one" of three brothers freshly sprung from prison and back at the trade for which they have a perfect track record: "12 jobs, no slip-ups, no body hurt."

First seen through a prison library window, watching with amused contempt as a bunch of thugs play full-contact basketball in the yard, Pearce looks nothing like the handsome (if sometimes gritty), leading-man roles he's known for in the US ("L.A. Confidential," "Memento," "The Time Machine"). His eyes are darty, smirking and sunken in sockets darkened by sleeplessness. His hair is uncut and slicked back. He has a pronounced underbite with a jutting chin, clenched with a charismatic conceit and covered by a trimmed but scruffy beard.

Dale is a complete character from cool demeanor to dirty fingertips as he leads his younger brothers -- ingenuous dreamer Mal and bellicose ruffian Shane (played with equal theatrical submersion by Damien Richardson and Joel Edgerton) -- on a quickie armored car robbery that gets the clan double-crossed and on wanted posters.

"I've a got a million bucks I can't get my hands on and a lawyer who's f**king my wife," Dale complains matter-of-factly after realizing he's been set up.

But that pinstriped shark with a dirty-money lifestyle and news-anchor hair (Robert Taylor) offers a way out in the form of One Last Big Heist to finance their escape from justice: They'll hit the bookies with their bags full of cash at the end of the Melbourne Cup, the biggest horse race in Australia.

Writer ("K2") and first-time director Scott Roberts infuses "The Hard Word" with a stimulating vigor of post-modern noir elements and light-hearted dark humor as the racetrack heist goes awry. The Twentyman boys are forced by their partner to bring in a fourth thief -- a dyslexic brute called Tarzan (Dorian Nikono) whose volatile temper turns the job into a bloodbath.

The story doesn't closely adhere to the heist movie template, sending the brothers on a strange getaway road trip with an unsuspecting (and very tipsy) spectator from the racetrack (Kate Atkinson) -- a girl that sensitive Mal falls for on first sight, only to be disappointed in a simple, un-movie-like twist of fate. Dale's wife keeps coming into play as well since they can't resist each other's animal sex drive, even though he wouldn't trust her any further than he could toss her.

Decked out in feathered hair, snakeskin miniskirts and glossy lip-liner, and daintily snorting dabs of cocaine from her manicured fake fingernails, Griffiths (best known Stateside for HBO's "Six Feet Under" and wifely roles in "The Rookie" and "Blow") lends sexy, slutty, low-class relish to the role that adds immeasurably to the picture's persimmon personality.

Although occasionally derailed by awkwardly untenable plot elements (what's with the prison shrink who begins mothering Shane to the degree of actually breast-feeding him?), "The Hard Word" is absolutely entertaining in its ironic criminal wit and unscrupulous charm.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Friday 27th June 2003

Box Office USA: $0.4M

Distributed by: Lions Gate Distribution

Production compaines: Australian Film Finance Corporation, Wildheart Films, Alibi Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 40%
Fresh: 33 Rotten: 49

IMDB: 6.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Dale, as Frank, as Carol, as Shane, as Mal, as Jane, as Pamela, as Kelly, as O'Riordan, as Paul, Dorian Nkono as Tarzan, Torquil Neilson as Mick, Stephen Whittaker as Rawson, Don Bridges as Doug, Doug Bowles as Bill, Greg Fleet as Tony

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.