Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Guy Pearce, Luke Ford, Jackie Weaver.
Out to Rent Now:
What is it all about:
Following the death of his mother, the young “J” Cordy goes to live with hs estrangled relatives. With conflict escalating betwwen his family of criminals and the police’s armed robbery division, J finds himself at the centre of a cold-blooded vengenace plot. As he naively navigates his way through the criminal underworld, he is forced to question where his loyalties lie as he tries to decipher who he can trust and who can protect him as he struggles for his own survival.
The Hughes Verdict!
The odd thing about this stunning crime thriller is that the cover boasts the tag “An Australian answer to Goodfellas” when in truth its more of a downright dirty version of such films like The Departed. Animal Kingdom is a relentless film, that will make you grateful for the life you lead, this starts uncomfortable and ends with a stunner, there is no happy ending, no sign of hope for the viewer who just wishes for some sunshine to make you smile. Goodfellas had many scenes that made you smile in awe, this makes you frown and its one you won’t forget in a hurry.
We start as we mean to go on, the young J sitting next to his mother who seems to be sleeping until the ambulance turns up and we find out that she is dead. With nowhere to go the young lad up sticks and goes to live with his Grandmother and his uncles, a dangerous bunch that his mother wisely kept him away from. At first life seems ok, Grandmother Janine played quite wonderfully by Jackie Weaver keeps the house in order but you know that there is trouble around the corner when Pope (Ben Mendelsohn) turns up and life starts to go into a downfall. With the police on their trail over their dodgy dealings and with guns in the house, J soon learns that life with these bunch is not going to be easy but when the police decide to take matters further and murder one of the family, a dangerous game starts and for poor old J he has to learn the rules to not only protect himself but those innocent in his life
The outstanding Jackie Weaver is the heartbeat of this movie!
Revenge is a strong word and its the blood of this movie. Every scene is filmed with anger and a greyness that makes it really uncomfortable and with such a strong cast on top form it is hard to shake Animal Kingdom out of your system. But for a film that goes over ground many films have done before, there are moments of sheer brutality that will startle even the more experienced viewer. Even through we get an impression that this family are close knit and loyal, you know that the relationship between all involved is ready to implode with each decision and its even hard for the viewer to root for J because even he does things that you find hard to find sympathy for. It really is a film that is unlikeable at times but its so compelling you simply can not switch off.
Jackie Weaver though is the heartbeat of this movie. A mother who makes you realise how poor Peggy Mitchell was in Eastenders. She is a proper gangster Mum, a woman who does not care about anything other than protecting her own, and her actions towards the climax shows a stunning turn from loveable to something else and it really is a joy to behold.
Make no mistake, Animal Kingdom is probably one of the finest crime dramas to come out of Australia. Its a brooding menace that will leave you stunned at some of the scenes including the final shot that totally comes out of the blue and shows how such a young innocent lad can become something he had no wish to be, an echo of the end of a certain Al Pacino film from years back.
If you loved fare like The Sopranos and all things Scorsese then this film is a must for you. Its been a while since I was last blown away at a film (Black Swan) but finally another film joins the list. Its been a slow year 2011, but make no mistake Animal Kingdom will be there with the best when the year ends…….