Director: David Michôd
Genre: Thriller/ Crime/ Drama
Runtime: 113 minutes
Starring: Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Guy Pearce, Luke Ford, Jacki Weaver, Sullivan Stapleton, James Frencheville, Dan Wylie, Anthony Hayes, Laura Wheelwright, Mirrah Foulkes, Justin Rosniak
Description: A seventeen year-old (James Frencheville) navigates his survival amongst an explosive criminal family and the detective (Guy Pearce) who thinks he can save him.
Review: Director David Michôd gave his debut movie “Animal Kingdom” a bit of a misleading title. It sounds more like an accessible Disney movie of nature documentary, but instead it’s a film with themes like drugs, murder and crime. “Animal Kingdom” refers to the ‘beast’ in people and the hierarchy in the criminal world.
In the film we follow Josh “J” Cody, a seventeen year old boy who ends up under the pressure of his three criminal uncles. Josh gets into dangerous situations because of them and eventually has to choose between his loyalty to his family and the help of detective Leckie.
The story of “Animal Kingdom” is pretty simple and is about the choice between good and bad. This does give the movie some clichés and some choices and plot twist seem unrealistic. The movie does surprise though, there are some engrossing scenes that all have a great buildup. What makes “Animal Kingdom” special is the gloomy and dark tone that dominates. No bright colors, just cold hues. And then the contrast between the dark shadows and the bright lights. Sometimes when the ultimate bad guy Andrew ‘Pope’ Cody is in shot, he is in darkness surrounded by darker shadows. And the dramatic music also adds to that depressed atmosphere.
The film is also great because of the fantastic performances. Especially Jacki Weaver, as Janine Cody. Her charming yet devilish character draws your attention. James Frencheville, who plays J, plays his first role in “Animal Kingdom” and manages to keep up with the rest. Guy Pearce also gives away a solid performance.
“Animal Kingdom” is an acting film. The dramatic, sometimes cliché plot serves as a background for a grabbing performance by the cast. “Animal Kingdom” is not an accessible movie, but it’s a vibrant movie experience.
Rating: 4/ 5