Killer ballad a Cave specialty
WRITING the prohibition- era bootlegger crime film Lawless, his second realised script and largest movie production yet, taught Nick Cave certain fundamental lessons of Hollywood filmmaking.
‘‘ I learned that it’s a waste of time to graphically kill animals in scripts,’’ the Australian singer/ actor says, laughing. ‘‘ It’s going to hit the cutting room floor.’’
The education and development of Nick Cave, screenwriter, continues with Lawless, a tale of three bootlegging brothers ( Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke) in rural 1920s Virginia.
In adapting Matt Bondurant’s novel, Cave ( pictured) was predictably moved to include scenes from the book of a pig’s slaughter and a dead calf’s birth, but had to settle for gangster gunplay and an ominous atmosphere alive with the constant threat of sudden brutality.
The film marks Cave’s continuing dalliance with screenwriting, an ‘‘ extracurricular’’ activity, he calls it, along with novel and poetry writing.
That’s in addition to his ‘‘ No. 1 job’’ as a musician and frontman of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and the dormant band Grinderman.
‘‘ I became a scriptwriter with absolutely no idea of how to write a script whatsoever,’’ says Cave, who also wrote the 2005 Australian Outback western, The Proposition. ‘‘ I still feel a bit of an outsider in that regard.’’
Violence has been a rich vein for Cave since he emerged in the 1980s with punk outfit The Birthday Party. As a theatrical lyricist of spare fables, his Gothic songs of death and mean men with a ‘‘ red right hand’’ have often carried a murderous gravity and narrative bent.
Like the bloody Proposition, Lawless is another kind of murder ballad for Cave, one populated with colourful characters compelled by primal urges.
‘‘ I don’t know where that comes from except that it’s a particular talent I have to write about that stuff,’’ says Victoriaborn Cave, who now lives in Brighton, England, with his wife and twin sons.