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:: Animal Kingdom

Naysayers of Australian cinema beware, there is life in the old dog yet and ‘Animal Kingdom’ shows that with force. Already a winner at Sundance, ‘Animal Kingdom’ takes the drama of ‘The Boys’ and mixes it with the brutal force that we all marvelled at in the first season of ‘Underbelly’.

When Justin ‘J’ Cody (newcomer, James Frecheville) is forced to live with his grandmother, Janine (Jacki Weaver), he and his girlfriend, Nicky (newcomer, Laura Wheelwright) are introduced to the world of Melbourne’s criminal underworld in a family led by Pope (Ben Mendelsohn), Barry (Joel Edgerton), Craig (Sullivan Stapleton) and Darren (Luke Ford). As a tit-for-tat war break out and the police (led by Leckie (Guy Peace) closes in, Josh learns the most valuable lesson you can learn from this family is to just shut the hell up.

As a film ‘Animal Kingdom’ does everything right. Each scene has been perfectly written by director/screenwriter, David Michod who also manages to keep the audience constantly guessing what is going to happen next, but expertly not giving anything away before it happens. The characters are developed in such a way that when one moves you’re not sure what they are about to happen and you are constantly worried about what will happen to the characters that you have come to care about.

There is simply no weak link in the acting in ‘Animal Kingdom’, having talented actors like Anthony Hayes in small parts make sure of that. Jacki Weaver, Ben Mendelsohn and newcomer, James Frecheville are on top of their game, while Luke Ford shows his brilliant performance in ‘The Black Balloon’ wasn’t a fluke. If Weaver, Mendelsohn and Frecheville don’t walk away with AFI Awards this year then something is drastically wrong.

‘Animal Kingdom’ is the perfect film. The acting, writing and directing are all the best they can possible be, in fact to use the word ‘faultless’ would not be an over-exaggerating. Raw and gritty ‘Animal Kingdom’ blows the opposition right out of the water.