Animal Kingdom

Film Review by Chris Fyvie | 18 Feb 2011
Film title: Animal Kingdom
Director: David Michôd
Starring: James Frecheville, Jacki Weaver, Ben Mendelsohn, Guy Pearce, Joel Edgerton
Release date: 25 Feb
Certificate: 15

Detached, monosyllabic teen Joshua’s (Frecheville) mum has, as he puts it, “gone and OD’d and she’s dead”, so he turns to estranged grandmother (Golden Globe nominee Jacki Weaver) and her criminally inclined offspring for shelter, support and advice with funeral arrangements. Joshua is comfortable with life in a family of armed robbers and drug dealers, enjoying the guidance of father-figure Baz (Edgerton). However, the return of Granny’s prodigal son, ‘Pope’ (Mendelsohn), and an attack on one of the clan lead things to go swiftly and devastatingly awry.

Joshua’s loyalties are tested by his kin and a sympathetic detective, Leckie (Pearce), as he’s slowly revealed to be brighter and more resourceful than initially appears. Debut writer/ director David Michôd has fashioned a taut, understated, elegiac drama full of surprising twists and well-rounded, plausible characters. In an excellent cast, Weaver and Mendelsohn stand out as the monstrous matriarch and unhinged ‘Pope’ – one of the most manipulative, nuanced and terrifying of recent screen lunatics.