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Customer Review

54 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-made, depressing Australian crime drama., September 12, 2010
This review is from: Animal Kingdom (DVD)
"Animal Kingdom," David Michod's debut feature, is undeniably well-made and compelling, but it's strictly for people who thought "The Departed" was too optimistic. Seventeen-year-old Joshua Cody (James Frecheville), known as J, never had a chance, as "Animal Kingdom" makes plain from the opening shot. Once J's mother dies of a heroin overdose, he has nowhere to go but the home of his "Grandma Smurf" (Jacki Weaver) and uncles, a violent group of career criminals that makes "White Heat" and "Bloody Mama" look like "Mary Poppins." The Codys live in a seedy section of Melbourne in which police and crooks are essentially competing mobs, sometimes cooperating but more often taking hits out on each other. It's a true jungle, just as merciless as the Serengeti and far more corrupt.

"Animal Kingdom" is essentially the story of how J is sucked inexorably into a life of crime, enhanced by ominous music and portentous slo-mo camera effects. Ben Mendelsohn--playing J's Uncle Andrew, a/k/a The Pope--is absolutely terrifying. So is Weaver as the outwardly cheery but inwardly satanic Grandma Smurf, who will sacrifice anyone and anything to preserve the family business. "Just because you don't want to do something," she remarks at one crucial point, "doesn't mean it can't be done." As for Frecheville, at the beginning he's reminiscent of Forrest Gump if Forrest had been played by the young Rupert Everett. His performance gains in power, however, as his afflictions pile up and his true nature starts to come out.

There are a few things about "Animal Kingdom" that don't fit together; for example, it's a little too convenient that upright Detective Sergeant Leckie (Guy Pearce) should be so ignorant of the corruption in his own police force. Nevertheless, "Animal Kingdom" is a persuasive crime drama and an admirable debut film for Michod. Just don't watch it when you're already depressed.
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Initial post: Aug 22, 2014 10:56:58 AM PDT
LOL ... your 1st paragraph description above sounds like 2014 any city USA ... LOL except here we also can intersperse local cops shooting un-armed local kids (and getting away with murder) while the Gangs Of America rule the land!
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Location: Alexandria, VA USA

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