Saturday, 23 April 2011

Animal Kingdom

We come to the end of another eight-film season of the Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre Film Club with the award winning Australian “family” crime drama Animal Kingdom (2010). Directed and written by David Michod, his debut feature film, its loosely inspired by the real life Pettingill family including their matriarch fondly known as “Granny Evil” Pettingill, Melbourne’s answer to Violet Kray, and also the Walsh Street police shootings that occurred in Melbourne in 1988. Michod film offers a look beyond the gloss of the city normal life to its criminal underbelly, and how well he does it.

Granny loves her boys.
This is a strong character movie that puts your in the mind of The Wire. The film opens with a women and a 17 year-old boy sitting in front of a TV, the women appears to be a sleep, then the medic’s arrive and we learn that this is the boys mother and she’s died from a heroin overdose. The boy, Joshua Cody, is very laid back about this tragedy and telephones his grandmother Janine ‘Smurf’ Cody, whom it appears he has had no contact for many years; she agrees to take the lad in. It’s at his “loving” granny’s that he eventually meets his three uncles. The eldest is Andrew Pope Cody a psychopath on the run from the law, drug dealing Craig Cody and the dim witted Darren along with their associate Barry Brown bank robber and dabbler in stocks and shares: all four are career criminals. The corrupt local law enforcement officers take the law into their own hands and kill Barry Brown in cold blood, it’s this action that triggers the chain of events that follows.   

Make no mistake about it, this is one superb Australian movie, one that will thrill and hold your attention. The main players are exceptional and the three that deserve a special mention are Jacki Weaver, who was nominated for a Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at this years Oscars for her portrayal of blond, brassy and slightly incestuous grandma. Ben Mendelsohn, who can be seen in Baz Luhrmann 2008 masterpiece Australia and the brilliant Beautiful Kate (2009), plays the evil Pope Cody. The best-known face is probably Guy Pearce who plays what seems to be the only honest cop in the film, Detective Nathan Leckie tasked with bringing in our criminal tribe. The violence is handled discreetly, music is sparingly used but the main reasons to make sure you don’t miss this movie is its strong story and Jacki Weavers performance.

Link to Beautiful Kate.   

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