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  • Colin Fraser


FOUR AND A HALF STARS A Melbourne crime family starts unravelling when they take on the police and everyone else who's standing in their way.


Starring Jakie Weaver, Ben Mendelsohn

David Michod's ball-breaking thriller journeys into dark territory through the eyes of 17 year old Josh (newcomer James Frecheville). “They were all scared,” he says about his crime hardened family, “I just didn't realise it”. Opening with the calmest depiction of an overdose yet filmed, Gran (the sublime Jackie Weaver) takes the newly orphaned lad in, glad to have another one of 'her boys' around home. Indifferent to the point of callousness regarding her daughter's death, we suspect Janine loves her sons a little too much.

Thus Michod reveals layer after layer about this menacing criminal family wedged atop a powder keg of raw emotion. The fuse is lit in retribution when one son is murdered and his sociopathic brother (the barely checked menace of Ben Mendlesohn further proof of his exceptional acting chops) shoots police in revenge. This is Melbourne, things like that happen there... Adding to the mix is kindly police officer Leckie (Guy Pearce) who thinks he can save Josh from the animals in his family.

This is powerful stuff made sensational by a top shelf cast and Michod's superior screenplay. There's not a moment wasted, not a frame out of place. Filmed with chilling austerity by Adam Arkapaw (Blind Company), it is given bone chilling impact thanks to Anthony Partos' (Disgrace) brooding score. ANIMAL KINGDOM proves to be one of the best Australian films about warring family since The Boys. Hell, it's one of the best Australian films ever made. Unmissable!



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