When The Weinstein Company first picked up John Hillcoat’s highly anticipated “The Wettest County” in Cannes this spring the plan at the time was to release the film before the end of the year, which gave the picture an awards season sheen. However, with the end of the year looming just six weeks away, and Harvey busily promoting “The Artist,” “My Week With Marilyn” and “The Iron Lady” as his main contenders this fall, it quickly became apparent that “The Wettest County” was not the cards for 2011. And alas, it now has a release date pegged for next spring, arriving on April 20, 2012.
The move can be construed in a number of ways — perhaps Hillcoat is still finishing the film (though, test screenings have been underway already) or maybe it’s just not that good (doubtful) — but more than likely, its simply not an awards season film and more of a straight genre pic. And that would make sense given the source material. Based on the novel by Matt Bondurant, this true story Prohibition-era tale is led by Tom Hardy, Shia LaBoeuf and Jason Clarke as the Bondurant brothers who run a bootlegging gang but find their moonshine dynasty in Franklin County, Virginia threatened by the authorities wanting a cut. The supporting cast features Jessica Chastain as Hardy’s love interest Maggie; Mia Wasikowska as LaBeouf’s belle; Dane DeHaan as Labeouf’s partner-in-crime; Guy Pearce as a violent deputy with the brothers in his sights, and Gary Oldman as a gangster who employs the boys. Yes, the cast is great and the premise sounds fantastic, but an Oscar player? If the picture is like “The Road” or “The Proposition” it’s likely a great mood/period piece but without the kind of depth Academy types go far. That’s not a slight against “The Wettest County,” it just may not be that sort of movie.