104. Animal Kingdom (2010)

Now here’s a roar that will make you sit up to Aussie films

Directed by: David Michôd
Written by: David Michôd
Starring: James Frecheville, Guy Pearce and Joel Edgerton

The bottom line in the animal kingdom is survival. When it comes to protecting one’s family, marking one’s territory and sizing up potential enemies and prey, not everything has to come down to brute strength in order to come out on top. In young Josh’s (Frecheville) case, his power lies in choice. He can choose to stand by a criminal family that he is only just getting to know, or trust in a cop (Pearce) who appears to have his best interests at heart. The decision is terrifying, thrilling and certainly makes for one of the best Australian films to hit international festival screens.

Nothing like oedipal relationships in a family of crime

As his debut feature, David Michod’s Animal Kingdom shows off Australian talent, artistic merit and unique sense of drama as a young boy’s moral and ethical dilemmas are pushed to their limits. After Josh’s mother dies from an overdose, the introverted teenager awkwardly steps into the arms of Grandma Smurf, who is played with captivating conviction by Jacki Weaver. As Josh becomes witness to his uncle’s criminal activities, the hunting games played by the police come too close to home and forces Josh to question his loyalties.

Animal Kingdom‘s plot, complex characters, impeccable acting talent and deeply stirring themes complement each other in what can only be described as an ambitious achievement by Michod. Daring, exciting and consuming in its dramatic power, Animal Kingdom  is one Australian feature that deserves to be noticed. And being the winner of Sundance doesn’t hurt either.


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