Monday, July 25, 2011

Animal Kingdom (2010)

David Michôd's directorial debut features an interesting narrative sleight of hand...for this is a movie about a family of bank robbers, none of whom do we ever see actually attempting to rob a bank. And frankly by the end of the film, I was beginning to doubt whether any of them would be up to it. Is this significant? Well yes. Imagine a movie about a clan of shoe-shiners in which no shoes are actually shone in 113 minutes.

But the potential at least for enforced cash withdrawals means that Michôd can locate his self-consciously naturalistic family drama in the familiar moral wilderness of the criminal underworld.

There are in fact two families (or tribes) in this landscape, the Codys led by their manipulative matriarch Janine, and the Melbourne cops, seemingly driven by similarly unpredictable and violently vindictive urges. Beneath this perennial group-level conflict, the film focuses on the individual set to between newcomer Joshua "J' Cody and the unhinged alpha male Andrew "Pope" Cody, played superbly by Ben Mendelsohn. This is another one of those dramas without much of a moral centre, but David Michôd squeezes out the inherent tension in Joshua's situation to exciting effect.

Grade: B++

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