Sunday, February 13, 2011
DVD Review - "Animal Kingdom"
"Animal Kingdom" is an Australian movie featuring an all-Australian cast of primarily unknown actors (with the exception of Pearce). When you add the "unknown factor" to the sheer strength of the well-defined characters, you almost feel like "Animal Kingdom" is a documentary, with the film's director getting the most in-depth look at illicit activities that anyone has ever been granted. That is to say, this is a character driven drama that you can almost confuse with real life. Pope is a complete sociopath who only just manages to keep his murderous impulses hidden under a thin veil of laughter which dies away as his desperation grows. J, on the other hand, is stoic and conflicted; a kid who just wants to have a normal life but always seems to find himself in jacked up situations into which he brings everyone around him (see: girlfriend). An entirely sympathetic figure, I found myself torn between wanting to see J rise above the stench of his family while at the same time hoping he'd be able to exact his revenge for the harm that is inflicted on him over the course of the film.
And then there's Janine, the sugary-sweet grandmother on the surface who controls her boy's criminal enterprise in the vein of Laura Linney's character in "Mystic River." She's a dark, twisted character who will stop at nothing to protect her children, even if it means sacrificing her grandson. Weaver earned a Best Supporting Actress nod for her role here and the merits of her nomination fully come to light. The acting is tremendous across the board, with Frechville earning a "Keep An Eye On This Kid" mark in my mind. "Animal Kingdom's" shortcomings are minimal and almost exclusively revolve around accent confusion (please excuse my American incompetence) and a few overly complex plot points that were difficult to follow. Regardless, it is an intense, hard film that doesn't pull any punches and absolutely glues the viewer to the screen.
Want a second opinion? See Marshall and the Movies take here: "Animal Kingdom"