When you have a crime movie with as much graphic violence as "Lawless", you need something to temper all that, especially with ruthless lead characters such as the Bondurant Brothers. Even if the characters of Maggie Beauford (played by Jessica Chastain) and Mennonite Bertha Minnix (Mia Wasikowska) might be considered underutilized in "Lawless", the counterpoint to their male leads was still necessary. The most fascinating one is Wasikowska's Bertha who happens to be a Mennonite going against her faith to fall in love with lead Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf).
If that all sounds familiar, then you've probably seen real-life situations depicted on The National Geographic Channel where "Amish: Out of Order" and "American Colony: Meet the Hutterites" show you what it's like to live and leave these chaste religions. And while Mennonites aren't that far away from the Amish, we have yet to see fallen Mennonites explored a little further in non-fiction and fiction.
We should be so lucky to have Mia Wasikowska star in another movie that tackles a fallen Mennonite in more depth. But there seems to be a growing appeal to this concept, which might be disturbing to some who value seeing the chasteness of the Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonite faiths. Nevertheless, it does make for compelling drama, just as much as it did when we saw a nun fall in love with a baron who had nine kids in "The Sound of Music."
Yes, nuns were once the first go-to subjects in the movies to depict a chaste faith being disrupted by earthly desire. Those movies, however, never ruined our impression and respect for nuns, even to this day. We also know that nuns seem to be more successful in staying in their faith than dropping out.
Priests, conversely, were the next exploited chaste faith in cinema that mimicked real life nobody really knew until recently. Many Catholics were shocked when the book and TV miniseries "The Thorn Birds" showed a respected priest having an affair with a younger woman without it ever getting into the open. Now, it looks eerily similar to what had really been going on all along, except not entirely with women.
Now it seems females sworn to austere living in these faiths are the ones perpetually expected to stay within their faith's guidelines. Maria in "The Sound of Music" still lived within the guidelines of her faith, despite marrying a wealthy man. Wasikowska's Bertha in "Lawless" is a different story where the austere living of the Mennonite faith goes completely out the window with her relationship with Jack Bondurant.
In an increasingly tempting world, NatGeo shows such as "Amish: Out of Order" show us that those austere faiths are perhaps in dire trouble. If reality can almost always trump fiction, then perhaps it makes Bertha in "Lawless" a little too late in the impact it could have made. Then again, the reality shows of these fallen angels can't always get into the head of their characters as a fictional portrait would.
Don't be surprised to see those faiths explored in other films down the line, based merely on our eternal impression that they never will be tarnished. Whether we like it or not, it's Hollywood's only subject left that hasn't been exploited in a time when nothing is sacred.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Mia Wasikowska