Animal Kingdom

The film starts in Melbourne with the death of the Mother of 17 year old Joshua Cody (James Frecheville) which is the trigger for him to get back in contact with the side of the family that his Mother had eschewed. Josh seems to take everything in his stride with an emotionally strong way but as his loving, smiling, welcoming Grandma takes him into her suburban bosom, he starts getting dragged along with his Uncles and unintentionally caught up with their criminal ways. All is not as it initially appears.

It’s a very stylised film and the heavy use of filters creates an initially warm feel to the household but perhaps becomes a little distracting on occasions. The slow-burning away of the exteriors is well paced (especially with the Grandma) and nearing the end of the film I found myself angry and disgusted by the actions of some of the family. Actually, this key scene which leads to Josh showing real emotion for the first time in the film sat uncomfortably with me, not just because of their actions but also unfortunately because I found it very unbelievable. I didn’t find the actions of Pope difficult to attribute to him, rather the details of the incident badly executed and I’m not sure whether that is a script or directing issue but either way it was distracting.

Two scenes stood out for me. The first was where the character Pope was lecturing his brother on cleaning his hands after going to the toilet (“if you touch your knob or your arse, you wash your hands”!). This was funny but also a nice astute observation of the skewed moral compass that criminals often have.

The other was an excellent scene where Josh was trying to get a family out of their house and to safety. The tension was almost unbearable as the car slowly reversed down the drive and calmly pulled away down the street.

The ending was obvious from a fair way off but still satisfying. So overall a good solid, well acted watch that invokes a fair bit of emotion in the viewer.

3 on 5

UK Release: 25th February 2011
Director: David Michôd
Starring: Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Guy Pearce, Luke Ford, Jacki Weaver, Sullivan Stapleton, James Frecheville


One thought on “Animal Kingdom

  1. […] family setting in suburban Brisbane which is very reminiscent in look and feel to ‘Animal Kingdom‘. After an early unsettling scene, John (Daniel Henshall) arrives and appears to the father […]

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