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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

ANIMAL KINGDOM

By D.E.Levine

Director: David Michod
Writer: David Michod
Cast: Ben Mendolsohn, Joel Edgerton, Guy Pearce, Luke Ford, Jacki Weaver, Sullivan Stapleton, James Frechville, Dan Wyllie, Anthony Hayes, Laura Wheelwright et al.
Producer: Liz Watts
Executive Producers: Vincent Sheehan and Bec Smith
Line Producer: Libby Sharpe
Running Time: 112 Minutes
Country of Origin: Australia
Language: English
Genre: Crime, Drama

Animal Kingdom has been described as a more naturalistic approach to a crime drama. It lacks the Hollywood flashiness of most gangster films.

Instead, the film concentrates on a Melbourne underworld crime family, Evil in this family and their tacky suburban home is mundane and even boring.

We're introduced to the family through 17-year old Josh or "J" whose mother kept him away from her murderous relatives but when she overdoses J has no place to go but to them.

All the actors are good but the actor playing J and the actress playing his grandmother (a newcomer and a well-established actress) give standout performances.

While J doesn't want to get involved and appears oblivious to the dangers to both himself and his girlfriend, living in the environment and observing his family, it's inevitable that he becomes part of their criminal life.

The teenager's observations reveal how individuals show their true colors and how trust can be quickly and easily lost.

While the teenager quietly observes, we see the grandmother, originally portrayed as a doting grandmother, show her authority and manipulative nature towards her offspring and grandson.

She can order the murder of her grandson without blinking an eye if it means saving herself and her sons (who are all somewhat unbalanced).

Animal Kingdom is an achievement because it doesn't go the Hollywood route and instead was filmed in real Australian locations in natural light. It comes across as authentic and real and has proven a hit at film festivals and previews.