I don't know why this Indie "Goodfellas" didn't strike a chord with me, but I felt that it spent too much time with inanities and not enough in character development.
Essentially the story is of a teen boy who is taken in by Grandma after his mother dies of an overdose. The boy, Joshua comes off as somewhat wooden, full of "I dunno" and shrugs that, while typical of a teen, don't really amp up the drama; though you kind of feel for him as his situation becomes something where he's caught between the rock and the proverbial hard place.
Since I've already mentioned "Goodfellas" it won't be giving anything away to tell you that this is about a small to mid level crime family, obstensively run by Grandma (though while she seems to have fingers in many a pie, it is obvious that she cannot control her four sons, especially Pope, who is convincing as some kind of amoral loose canon. It is his actions that move the film... and that's the problem. For a family who has been successfully running several criminal operations for many a year, Pope sure does some really stupid things - the kind of things that make you wonder why he wasn't caught and put behind bars years ago.
The coppers here are portrayed as being hamstrung by the system - they keep making arrests, but the family keeps getting released, if for no other reason than it suits the ultimate plot setup, which has Joshua being cajoled into narcing on his family... all the while being coached by the family's lawyer in how to double deal. This part of the film is compelling, as the cops put him into a kind of witness protection, where Joshua finds out that there are elements within the police force who want him dead. The motivation for their desires is obvious to the viewer, but we're left wondering if Joshua can figure it all out. It's a nice cat and mouse game, but, once again, Joshua doesn't seem convincing in the part.
The film also spends far too much time setting a mood - showing us way too many "normal" scenes of the family, or Joshua's girl friend's family having a meal. To what end are all these eating scenes - there's little dialog of purpose here, so unless (and this could be a big reach) director/writer David Michod is giving some kind of oblique nod to the film's title, there can only be the underlying message that the members of this crime family are really just regular blokes... but then why show the girl friend's family meals? As for the girlfriend, Michod missed a real opportunity to develop a fascinating character -she remained a mere means to an end, and her tale unexplored.
This film was a winner at Sundance, and sadly, though there are some nice elements, I just couldn't get emotionally involved with Joshua's plight, nor did I find Pope, as the enforcer part of the family, convincing - except as a crazed buffoon doing the kind of things that no longstanding criminal with any brains would tolerate.