ANIMAL KINGDOM – Sundance Movie Review
ANIMAL KINGDOM from director David Michôd tells the story of Josh (played by newcomer James Frecheville) who, after his mom’s death, moves in with relatives who happen to be part of the Australian criminal underworld.
The new home is composed of Baz (Joel Edgerton), the sensible and grounded uncle with a wife and kid whom Josh immediately gets attached to. Then you have Craig (Sullivan Stapleton), the drug dealing uncle and Darren (Luke Ford), the cool and young uncle, and finally you have Pope (Ben Mendelsohn) who is the sociopathic black sheep of the family. Finally you have the grandmother (Jacki Weaver) who is the matriarch of the family. I also have to mention Guy Pearce who delivers a solid performance as Leckie, a straight forward cop who is trying to find a way to put the brothers in jail.
Once Josh moves in the house, things start to unravel after a tragic death in the family kicks off a series of terrible events that culminate into a hellish situation for Josh and everyone around him. The movie was more of a character study powered by some solid acting but I didn’t find the story very compelling as the events and the decisions taken by the characters were not particularly original or even smart for that matter. The pace of the movie is somewhat slow and labored at times although it has some genuine jump out of your seat moments. The movie is sort of like a Soprano episode with very little of the crime part and a lot of the family drama part.
Although Animal Kingdom won dramatic jury prize for world cinema at the Sundance Film Festival, it ultimately didn’t really work for me. I realized that this was due to the fact that I ultimately wasn’t the audience for this movie. I came in hoping to watch an Australian gangster movie and ended up watching a family drama. Since I tend not to be keen on family dramas in general, I really couldn’t enjoy the movie as much as I wanted to.
So ultimately, is Animal Kingdom a movie I would recommend you to see? Yes but only if you are into family drama movies. If you are looking for a gangster movie like I was, this might not be the movie for you.