Quiet but effective – Australia”™s 2010 indie movie that could – Animal Kingdom stands out with a smart script, a fabulous cast, a strong score and a seductive pace that moves languidly throughout the tale of a crime family struggling to survive against the blood-hungry armed robbery forces.
Review by Lucy Griffin
Obviously not an American thriller, the Melbourne-set crime drama Animal Kingdom relies on searing looks as opposed to car chases, on imagery instead ofÂ seizure-inducing flashes of action. The great thing about foreign films is discovering a new batch of artists to get excited about, this film being no exception with a sampling of Australia’s best (including a sturdy performance by more well known Guy Pearce).
Playing Pope, Ben Mendelsohn is a powerfully creepy predator who seemingly rules the pride, stalking his way through scenes like some alley cat you wouldn”™t want to come to terms with. Â His leering sideways glances chill you to the core, ready to pounce, kill and capable of even more, which leaves almost too much to the imagination in a way that added to the thrilling quality of this film.
Jacki Weaver plays the devoted den mother – disarmingly endearing with the cold-blooded manner of a lioness that hunts to kill. Â Her presence is minimal yet strong. You might for one moment wonder what it was that got her nominated for an Oscar. Then, all of a sudden, you’ll be giggling at the sheer genius of a simple lift of her eyebrow. Her entire story tells of a woman who will stop at nothing to protect her sons, doing so in a behavior that seems natural,Â stirringÂ her tea amidst the primeval chaotic wilderness her family has created with their crooked ways. Â Joel Edgerton as the handsome ill-fated, wrong crowd right guy Barry; Sullivan Stapleton as the tough yet fragile brawn, and Laura Wheelwright as the girlfriend who getsÂ unfortunatelyÂ caught up with the family drama were also compelling in their supporting roles.
Narrator and lead, ‘J’ played by JamesÂ Frecheville seemed plucked from the streets of any neighborhood at any time. This is perfect casting for a character that uses a sort of hypnotic monotony to tell his tale in thisÂ non assuming thriller that almost allows you to create your own emotional backdrop without forcing overt violence or convoluted plot lines.Â As ‘J’ states in the beginning, “Kids just are where they are and they do whatever they are doing.” Simple as it may seem, this is a profound description of Animal Kingdom and the family”™s tale it relates.
Definitely see thisÂ unstoppable force about the powerful parallels to a crime family and the “˜eat or be eaten”™ nature of jungle living.
This review was first published on Getacluesy