Friday, January 21, 2011

Animal Kingdom - DVD Review


Starring Ben Mendelsohn, Guy Pearce, Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford, Jacki Weaver, James Frecheville and Sullivan Stapleton.
Directed by David Michod.

This Aussie crime thriller stands out by taking the genre and moving things along in ways we don't expect. It's as though the makers wanted to cross Goodfellas with Shotgun Stories. There are characters who brim with menace but manage to keep control, while there are others who seem benign reveal their true colors and capabilities later.

Overall I liked it, but it does suffer from the miscasting of its central character J. As played by newcomer James Frecheville, J is a sulking stiff. Where it needed a young Ray Liotta or Al Pacino at its core, instead we get an actor in over his head. He's surrounded by talanted people who tend to make up for it.

The movie opens with J learning his mother has died from a heroine overdose. He must then go live with his grandmother and three uncles. He knows they make their money from armed robbery, and he knows he needs to keep his mouth shut, but the cops (who have their own corrupt tendencies) are closing in on them.

Jacki Weaver will likely get a Best Supporting Actress nomination for this, and I agree. She bares her teeth late in the movie, but when she does, that pleasant smile we've been seeing has a whole new meaning.

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