Riveting story of crime and police vigilantism (by DrPhoton)
The backdrop to this movie is Melbourne, Australia in the mid-1980's, which according to the director had one of the highest per-capita murder rates in the world. At the time, there were several deaths in Melbourne in which wanted and suspected criminals were killed by the police under suspicious circumstances. These killings in turn supposedly ignited a slew of retaliatory murders perpetrated on police officers cf. the "Walsh Street" police shootings .This is a movie about a young man Josh or "J," played by James Frecheville whose extended family are all <more>
criminals. Using the character of seventeen-year-old J as a sort of catalyst, the movie explores a variety of crime-related issues, from the effects of growing up in a world where criminal activity is the norm, to the escalation of crime that is a natural consequence of vigilantism especially when the vigilantes are police .The characters are all played very well, with exceptionally good performances given by Ben Mendelsohn, Jackie Weaver, Sullivan Stapleton and young James Frecheville in his debut as J.While "Animal Kingdom" starts slowly perhaps -too- slowly for some , it continually builds in intensity throughout the entire movie, culminating with an ending that is both shocking and yet inevitable. In particular, the movie has a very compelling scene played perfectly by Mendelsohn, with an awesome supporting role played by Luke Ford - I'm sure this scene repulsed many in the audience it certainly repulsed me . At first, I feared that the scene was added by the director merely as a gratuitous exploitation of the audience's emotions. However, as the movie progresses, the scene's outcome becomes an integral part of the plot development, and is therefore necessary for the completion of the main story.This movie will not be for everybody - the subject matter and the honest way in which the movie portrays it made the movie somewhat taxing at times to sit through. However, I think those willing to consider the necessity of telling the story of "Animal Kingdom" will find the movie entertaining and thought-provoking - I certainly did.
A triumph of Australian cinema. (by Troy_Campbell)
I will be honest, I have always found it hard to get excited about seeing an Aussie movie. I'm of the general opinion that the Oz film industry is normally too wrapped up in being 'true blue' that they forget to make films with a universal theme and subsequently building an output that strays very little. Well hasn't 2010 proved me wrong. First there was the breath of fresh air that was Bran Nue Dae followed by the memorable American-set debut by Sydney director Andrew Lancaster, Accidents Happen, and the moving WWI drama Beneath Hill 60. Then, like the final dose of a <more>
patriotic inoculation to my anti-Oz entertainment views of old, comes first-timer David Michod's Sundance winning Animal Kingdom, gaining my first five-star rating for the year.With nary a flaw to be found, this crime-drama unfolds at a terrifically slow-burning yet somehow exhilarating pace. The intricately detailed tale has been crafted with such care and dedication that every single frame seems to be oozing with importance, whilst the amazing soundtrack significantly adds to the immersive atmosphere. Drawing you in from the very first scene and never letting you go, you can't help but think about what happens long after the final credits roll. The ambitious movie-making and successful result is even more remarkable when you consider that Michod never resorts to gratuitousness with violence or sex or over-the-top, colourful personalities – fallback devices for many modern 'gangster' pictures – instead allowing his immaculately constructed story and deeply invested characters, all of whom share a layered relationship with one another, to sweep us away.Jacki Weaver has received numerous critical plaudits for her unnerving performance as Grandma Smurf – a resourceful, persevering women who'll stop at nothing to protect her boys – and deservedly so; the powerful handle she has on her sons and her willingness to embrace the criminal environment is deeply disturbing and chilling. Also tremendous, and for me the acting highlight of the picture, is Mendelsohn. An eerily quiet felon that can explode into unhinged and desperate violence at any moment, the monstrous Pope commands every bit of our attention. Witnessing his calm exterior when being arrested by the cops for a heinous crime – either because he assumes he'll go free or because going to prison just doesn't faze him – is extraordinary. Elsewhere youngsters Frecheville and Ford do a commendable job holding their own against such an experienced cast; Stapleton is fascinating as the drug-fuelled middle sibling; adding class and impact as always is international star Pearce whilst the immensely talented Edgerton presents a likable and charismatic alternative as Cody family friend Barry.A triumph of Australian cinema, this could very well be one of our nation's greatest.5 out of 5 1 - Rubbish, 2 - Ordinary, 3 - Good, 4 - Excellent, 5 - Classic
"Animal Kingdom" is a documentary that tells the tale of the creation of the infamous Disney Park! Not! Actually, the "Animal Kingdom" I am referring to has a far more different theme than the jolly theme park. "Animal Kingdom" is a superior Australian movie about a 17-year-old high school teen named Joshua "J" Cody who suddenly gets captured into a crime-ridden animalistic family filled with bank robbers, drug dealers, and murderers; these predators just happen to be his ferocious uncles and his matriarch, manipulative grandma. Joshua mother's <more>
fatal drug overdose results in his moving in with the Killer Cody herd. Writer-Director David Michod's masterpiece yes, I said the "M" word is undoubtedly one of the best family crime dramas that I have ever witnessed. Michod does not exploit the movie as a bang-bang shoot-them-up mindless tale, but instead he brilliantly centers the film around J's subjective experiences on being entrapped in this futile crime world which he did not choose to be a part of. Furthermore, Michod provides an authentic look at the mentality of a crime-ridden family which have deep-ridden fears that are masked with their avenging, scheming actions. Hey mates, I think David Michod is the real deal, this is his first film so I can't wait for more cinematic kingdoms to come from young David. The cast of "Animal Kingdom" is divine! James Frecheville's restrained "WTF is going on around me" performance as J was a stellar freshman effort. "The Men From Uncle", in other words the Cody Crime Brothers, were an eclectic and intimidating trio portrayed astoundingly by their Aussie actors. Ben Mendelsohn was profoundly menacing as Pope Cody, the uncle whose gaze and gestures were perfected by Mendelsohn in detailing the ruthlessness of his character. Sullivan Stapleton's fury performance as the "Sonny Corleone-like" Craig Cody staples Sullivan as an Aussie actor on the rise. The younger but more fragile & insecure Cody name Darren was played with exact aptitude by Luke Ford. But the stellar supporting cast ensemble of "Animal Kingdom" was not just about the Uncles. Joel Edgerton shined as Barry Brown, the Cody family confidante who happens to be the cerebral architect of the Cody armed robbery crew. And the veteran Aussie acclaimed actor Guy Pearce once again pierced away on his diversified acting skills with another grand effort in his work as the "J-guide to the good side" Detective Leckie. But it was Jacki Weaver's virtuoso performance as the grandma that I was hoping would get run over by a reindeer or at least a kangaroo, was the one that had the most thespian bite of them all. Weaver's Oscar-nominated performance as the conniving Smurf Cody is what acting dreams are made of! It will be an unjustified supertramp I mean supertrap if this DreamWeaver is not awarded the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award! There is not one mundane or insignificant scene in "Animal Kingdom", it is as luring as it is unpredictable, just like the animal kingdom itself. Go on a scavenger cinematic hunt and set your sights on the "Animal Kingdom". ***** Excellent
After his mother dies, 17 year old J comes to live with his estranged grandmother and uncles, a family of felons. He enters the animal kingdom of suburban crime and stumbles through a minefield of sociopaths, cops and lawyers, all claiming to protect him. J soon learns though that trust means nothing when people are desperate.This is a dramatic, well-made film that haunts the mind. Highly cinematic, meticulously crafted, thrilling and poignant in equal measure. The director emphasises realistic dialogue, multi-dimensional characters and underplays violence. Still, the film is palpably tense, <more>
there are scenes that will leave you shaking, even where there is no bloody payoff. As the body count builds even a car slowly reversing down a driveway becomes a menacing sight. The ending is satisfying.The film is very well acted, young Frecheville keeps it natural and holds his own amongst titanic performances from veteran Aussies. Mendelsohn as Uncle Pope is particularly brilliant, dressed at Christmas from Lowes, this dorky suburban thug bullies the weak including his passive younger brother Darren, unhappily entrenched in a life he cannot escape from , and who's confrontational behaviour springs from a deep well of paranoia. His maladjusted moral compass so skewed he frequently crosses into psychopathic territory. And yet he remains all too human, he's a mundane monster. Weaver too, leaves a memorable impression, where revelations abound in the film's third act.My only complaint is that I would have liked to have seen a courtroom scene that is left to the imagination, we see corrupt police in action, why not a demonstration of hypocrisy in the justice system too? But this is a minor whinge in the grand scale of this ambitious story.
One of those movies that grabs you from the excellent opening credits as the camera pans over security camera stills of a gang of Melbourne thugs robbing banks. The audience, which was rustling noisy junk food through the previews, fell silent very quickly.Jackie Weaver as the Matriarch of this crime family was amazing.It felt a little "talkie" until about half way through, but there is tension right from the beginning that carries you through. Every character is connected to every other as if by springs quivering with tension or compression and the movie really delivers holding the <more>
resolution to the final frame where everything shifts into a new alignment.I really enjoyed Animal Kingdom, it does not glamorize the life of these crims the way Underbelly or Sopranos does, and the cops reflect the dirty history of the Melbourne's finest too Guy Pearce reprising his role in LA Confidential as a rare Mr Clean . Overall I think David Simon The Wire would approve of Animal Kingdom.Anyone who has wondered how murderers can be loved by their Moms isn't that most everyone? should see this movie, it isn't a TV experience it really works well on the big screen.
Animal Kingdom is an Australian film that focuses on a seventeen year old young man named Josh. Josh's mother has just died and not knowing who he should call he calls his grandmother Janine. Josh explains to Janine the situation and she goes to pick him up and lets him stay with her at her home. What we also learn is that Josh and Janine have not seen each other in years. Janine is Josh's mother's mother and they had a falling out, so because of that they have not seen each other for quite a long time. Usually around Janine's house are her sons and Josh's uncles. We soon <more>
see that they are involved in numerous criminal and other illegal behaviour and that the police are on to them. One officer by the name of Leckie, continually questions Josh, and in his own way tries to protect him from his family and as time goes on, Josh, starts to see what he means because whenever Josh, has been questioned his uncles are very uneasy around him and the fear and ultimately violent actions that take place will leave Josh with a tough decision, which is whether to turn his uncles in and betray the only family he has, or to lie to Leckie and continue to live in fear. Animal Kingdom works for several reasons. It is a very intense and disturbing film that is in it's own way is also a very creepy and scary film. The performances and the musical score really elaborate this and at times I was getting uncomfortable in my seat not knowing what would happen in this film and because of the brilliant performances and music the film made me squirm in my seat even more. The film has a gritty and earthy type of look and feel to it, which I found appropriate for the story telling and basically the setting and mood the filmmakers were trying to get across. The story is quite an involving one and as it moved on I started to care for Josh, and hoped that he would make it out of this terrible situation and that in one way, or another he would go on to bigger and better things. Also every time his uncles were on screen they struck a fear and uncomfortable feeling inside of me and basically real genuine fear of these characters. The film is a low budget film, but by using very good actors, music and story it elevates it to become a first grade picture that I think most people would like, if they would only give it a chance and go see it. This is an incredibly powerful and disturbing film and it will leave an impact on you because of how masterfully it was done with it's great cast, crew and story. One of the most suspenseful and powerful films of the year that deserves a look from others because behind all this lies a really good movie and one that should be seen.
You've Done Some Bad Things, Sweetie (by ferguson-6)
Greetings again from the darkness. An Australian movie that packs a wallop! Writer/Director David Michod delivers an unsettling look into one family's life of crime and corresponding order of things - the circle of life in the Animal Kingdom. Supposedly based on a true story, this is a tough family that you would not want as neighbors. These aren't Scorcese's smooth operators from "Casino" or "Goodfellas". No, these guys are worse.The matriarch is played chillingly by Jacki Weaver. She is mother or grandmother to the guys except for one outsider in the band <more>
of crooks. While she messes with your mind through the story, it's not until the final 15 minutes when she really kicks it up a notch and becomes flat out frightening in her power.There are only a couple of actors that most people would recognize. Joel Edgerton plays the outsider in the group, and the one trying to go straight by playing the stock market with his "earnings". The other is Guy Pearce, who plays the detective trying to both solve the cases and rescue young Josh, played by newcomer James Frecheville.Not only is this the type of story that sucks you in, it is a reminder of just how distracting movie stars can be a to film. The lack of stars allows us to really be absorbed into this family, or better, this world of crime, deceit, corruption and paranoia. There is not a single superstar who appears - one who can capitalize on his film history of characters and immediately generate recognition. Here, the viewer must get to know an entire family for who and what they are. This is powerful stuff for a film lover.The winner for best psychopath is Ben Mendelsohn as Pope. His dead eyes will scare you. His demeanor will scare you. His actions will disgust you. There are two lines in the film that help us make sense of what occurs. Early on, the narrator tells us that "all crooks come undone" at some point. Later, the detective Pearce tells us that in the Animal Kingdom, you are either weak or strong. The lines seems pretty clear.The focus of the film is on Josh Frecheville who gets plopped into this family of criminals after his mom dies of an overdose and he calls his grandmother Weaver . Josh spends the rest of the film trying to blend in while staying clean. Of course, even his stoic mask doesn't save him from the path of destruction created by Pope.In the end, the film is about survival, adaptation and defining what really defines strong and weak, good and bad. If you enjoy powerful crime thrillers, this one is worth checking out ... and be appreciative for the lack of Hollywood star power. That's part of why it works!
Director David Michod should be congratulated for his intelligent, quiet control over this strongly scripted, well-acted, distinctly Australian movie. All the parts came together with originality, which is not an easy task, especially with crime stories; but this one delves into the families & minds of criminals avoiding blatant stereotypes so often thrust upon the viewer. All the actors are perfectly cast and fine actors. Jacki Weaver, you nailed Smurf and Guy Pearce has become this wonderful chameleon & consummate actor who continues to surprise with his range. This is your first <more>
feature, David Michod, well I'm certainly looking forward to your second.
'ANIMAL KINGDOM': Four Stars Out of Five This critically acclaimed Australian crime film rivals some of Hollywood's best. It's a dark and violent tale revolving around a teenage youth caught in the middle of a destructive criminal family. The film is written and directed by David Michod, which marks his fictional feature film debut, and also marks the feature debut of actor James Frecheville in the lead role. The film also features a number of veteran Australian character actors in supporting roles including Ben Mendelsohn, Luke Ford, Joel Edgerton and Anthony Hayes which <more>
the latter two were recently seen together in the Austrailian film noir thriller 'THE SQUARE' as well as Guy Pearce and an award worthy performance from Jacki Weaver. Frecheville plays Joshua 'J' Cody, a seventeen year old who recently lost his mother to a drug overdose. He contacts his grandmother Janine Cody Weaver , who's mother had a falling out with many years earlier, and she takes him in to her home. He's then exposed to his three criminal uncles: Craig Cody Sullivan Stapleton , a drug dealer, Andrew 'Pope' Cody Mendelsohn , a bank robber who's best friend and ex partner Barry Brown Edgerton is like part of the family, and Darren Cody Ford , who's barely older than 'J' and has been taken under the two bank robbers wing. The authorities have been after 'Pope', who has been hiding out from them for some time, and they escalate their conflict by murdering Barry in cold blood. This sends 'Pope' and the other brothers into a frenzy and they retaliate. Things spiral out of control from there and 'J' is caught in the middle, especially when a Detective Pearce tries to get him to turn on his family. The movie is very dark and violent and set in a world that is probably extremely unrelatable to most viewers but the character of 'J' is relatable and that's why the movie works so well. He's extremely soft spoken and introverted and wishes for nothing more than a normal life and to leave his crazy family behind. He finds some happiness with his girlfriend Nicky Laura Wheelwright but when she's put into jeopardy as well he resorts to his violent 'animal' side as well. The movie is interesting, compelling and beautifully directed by Michod. I can't wait to see what his sophomore project will be.