Animal Kingdom (6/10)
by Tony Medley
Run time 112 minutes.
Not for children.
This is the violent story of an
Australian crime family consisting of armed robber Pope Cody (Ben
Mendelsohn) who is hiding from some renegade detectives who are out to
kill him. His partner, Barry 'Baz' Brown (Joel Edgerton), seems like a
nice enough guy, but wants to go straight. Pope has a younger brother,
Craig Cody (Sullivan Stapleton), who is a drug addict, but is making a
lot of money selling drugs. They have a younger brother, Darren (Luke
Ford), who is not a bad guy yet, but is learning the family business.
The film starts as their nephew,
Joshua 'J' Cody (James Frecheville), is sitting in an apartment placidly
watching television next to his mother who has just died from an
overdose, so he appears to have inherited the sociopathy of his family.
J moves in with the crime family under the thumb of his grandmother,
Smurf (Jacki Weaver), mother to the Cody boys. She is a real piece of
work. She’s got a wonderful, heartwarming smile, but she’s the glue that
holds the family (and the movie) together. J finds that the world of his
grandmother and uncles is far beyond his ken.
J also finds himself in the middle
of a maelstrom as the police are apparently out to murder the Codys in
cold blood. All alone, he turns to a girlfriend, Nicky (Laura
Wheelwright) for solace, but the family ensnares her, too.
Adding to the murky affair, one of
the cops, Nathan (Guy Pearce), is trying to turn J into a witness for
him. It’s a tough life for J.
This is a dark,
depressing film with at least one killing of such cold-blooded depravity
it is difficult to forget. Weaver creates a truly memorable
villainess, an almost perfect sociopath, hidden from view by a wonderful
smile, but with almost no human compassion or feeling. Pearce gives his
usual fine performance. While the acting is very good overall,
Wheelwright shines in her relatively short appearance. Written and
directed by David Michôd, it’s so dark it could have used a little humor
August 10, 2010