Saturday, February 26, 2011

Animal Kingdom (2010) R - 3 Stars

A winner at the Sundance Film Festival of 2010, Animal Kingdom offers of a close knit family of killers. Though I was confused at the beginning, turning on the subtitles helped me get all the sometimes heavy Australian accented dialog. The movie takes some time to warm up but then you can see how things escalate to drive J to become one of the family. You know somethings off with the mother right away as you see her kiss all of her rotten boys on the lips. Talk about the white trash crazies, this dysfunctional family does have one thing; loyalty! Poor young boy gets caught up in the middle of it when his mother dies of and overdose. He's forced to go live with his grandmother and her pack of trouble makers. Innocent and naive, his only goal now is to stay alive.

I definitely liked the second half more than the first when things started to come together. If the movie would have started out as good as it ended, my rating would be higher. I did however, like some of the slow motion filming during the boys arrest, but the film never really explains how they all got started. The acting is above average and a decent suspenseful drama if you can hang in there.

The scene opens up with Joshua 'J' Cody (James Frecheville), waiting for the ambulance to see what's happened to his mom. She has just overdosed on heroin and dies. With no where else to go, J calls his grandmother Janine 'Smurf' Cody (Jacki Weaver), who comes to pick him up. J hasn't seen his grandmother or his uncles in quit some time as Smurf and his mom had an argument, separating them many years ago. He's not really sure where he fits right now felling like a stranger with his relatives. His girlfriend Nicky Henry (Laura Wheelwright), helps keep his mind off it. But J senses that his new close knit family is evil. Though it's unspoken, he senses Smurf and his uncles are involved in the crimes he see on television. Bad things are going on and deep inside, he knows they are responsible. Trying to not make waves, he does what the uncles ask without question.

Barry 'Baz' Brown (Joel Edgerton), looks out for the families interests and money but he's been trying to convince Smurf to go straight. He is the stable one in the family keeping everyone out of jail. But when he is murdered by a cop, Andrew 'Pope' Cody (Ben Mendelsohn), the oldest uncle steps in to take over. J over hears Darren (Luke Ford), Craig (Sullivan Stapleton) and Pope discuss what to do with J. Pope asks J to steal a car, leaving it in the middle of the street at 2:00 a.m., which he does to avoid problems at home. He is then instructed to go home and forget what he's done. He knows that everything happening in the news, is a direct result of his new family. When J sees on T.V. two cops have been killed, the knows why the police have shown up on his doorsteps. In police custody, the family fears J is weak and will not stand up through questioning. Smurf and her tough love practices think possibly J must be taken out to keep the families secrets safe. After Nicky is silenced by the hands of Pope, J silently decides if it fits in with detective Nathan Leckie (Guy Pearce), who offers him safe witness protection, or should he return to the family and settle his score.

Awards Include:

2010 - L.A. Film Critics Association - Best Supporting Actress
2010 - National Board of Review - Best Independent Film
2010 - National Board of Review - Best Supporting Actress
2010 - National Society of Film Critics - Best Supporting Actress (Runner-up)
2010 - New York Film Critics Circle - Best First Feature

Porchlight Films, Sony Pictures Classics
Director: David Michôd
Writer: David Michôd
Producer: Liz Watts
I viewed 2/11

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