In the lighthearted, flat-footed Australian caper film The Hard Word, Guy Pearce plays a prison librarian who secretly loans out such off-the-record reading material as girlie magazines and Philip Roth's paean to onanism Portnoy's Complaint. Why prisoners would want to read about the one sexual outlet easily available to them remains unanswered, but the otherwise undemanding film, written and directed by Scott Roberts, leaves plenty of time to think about such matters. Sprung from jail by a crooked lawyer (Robert Taylor) with connections and criminal intentions, Pearce and his brothers–muscular oddball Joel Edgerton and fleshy gourmand Damien Richardson–are contracted to commit a robbery, then double-crossed and sent back to prison, then sprung again for a bigger job. As they plot their next heist, Pearce begins to wonder whether wife Rachel Griffiths has been two-timing him with Taylor, then whether she does it for her pleasure or his protection. Roberts' script and direction show sparks of wit, but the plot comes lifted from countless heist films (most directly from The Killing, racetrack and all), the story lurches when it should glide, and the film lets its central love triangle play out in scenes that wouldn't seem out of place on a soap opera. (Since Pearce and Taylor both got their start on Australian soaps, maybe it's meant as homage.) The cast doesn't seem to notice the film's flaws, however, which helps. In an atypical performance, Pearce makes for a convincing tough guy, heart of gold and all, and he has a nice chemistry with his on-screen brothers, whose effortless patter fills out the best scenes. Maybe in the sequel, they can lay off the crime and just have a nice chat about Goodbye Columbus.