The Hard Word (18)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/08/2003

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 103 mins

Stylish, well-acted, impressive first feature by writer-director Scott Roberts with strong characters, a quirky script and a cool soundtrack.

The Hard Word is the impressive first feature by Australian writer-director Scott Roberts – the title comes from the Australian expression “to put the hard word on”, which, the press notes handily explain, can mean anything from sexual propositioning to menace.

However, the original working title of Blood and Guts probably gives a better idea of what to expect...

Three Stooges…Sort Of

Guy Pearce, Damien Richardson and Joel Edgerton star as the three Twentyman brothers, Dale (the brains), Mal (nice but dim) and Shane (handsome but prone to violent mood swings) – career criminals whose motto is “Nobody gets hurt”.

Sprung from prison by their smooth-operating lawyer Frank (Robert Taylor), whose corrupt connections go all the way to the top, they help two bent cops rob an armoured van and are promptly double-crossed and put back inside.

The three brothers carve a nice little niche for themselves in prison, with Mal winning friends as the prison butcher, Dale working as the prison librarian and Shane falling in love with the prison psychiatrist (Rhondda Findleton). However, Dale comes to suspect Frank of sleeping with his duplicitous wife Carol (Rachel Griffiths) and when the chance of another heist comes along, the brothers bide their time for a chance of revenge…

Stylish, Quirky And Generally Cool

The Hard Word has great characters and a delightfully quirky script that gives Mal his own secret language (“butcher talk”) and has some terrific lines. The film is frequently very funny, but Roberts keeps the mood tense, achieving a Tarantino-like blend of humour and violence that is heightened by David Thrussell’s superb score.

The acting is superb, with Pearce the stand-out – his dry delivery and slightly odd stares and make-up are occasionally reminiscent of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. Joel Edgerton (soon to be seen in Ned Kelly) is good too and bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Albert Finney.

There are some terrific scenes, such as when Mal unexpectedly falls in love with a woman whose car they are trying to steal, or when the three men make a run for it with the heavy bags full of money.

In short, The Hard Word is an extremely enjoyable film - stylishly directed, with a great script and genuinely likeable characters. It’ll be a pleasure to see what Roberts does next. Recommended.

Film Trailer

The Hard Word (18)
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Content updated: 20/02/2019 10:20

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