Maksim's Review of Animal Kingdom
Gripping, shockingly realistic and depressing, Animal Kingdom is a dark, gut-wrenching crime family drama. With solid pace and remarkable performances this Australian art house movie challenges the modern perceptions of what is moral and almost repulses with its disturbing realism.
Probably the biggest asset of David Michod's movie is the absolutely down-to-earth story, the natural way in which the whole movie develops and a dysfunctional crime family is depicted. Following the fall of this family through the eyes of a 17 years old boy (James Frecheville as Josh) Animal Kingdom spares nothing to its audience. Surprisingly, it is not the violence, gore scenes or something similar that shocks, but the dark, hopeless mood which created by the depiction of the provokingly immoral and volatile characters.
It is David Michod's steady direction, which builds up the tension to a level in which the movie gets totally under your skin. Slowly and skillfully he builds up the feeling of despair and it fully strikes when Joshua/Josh goes under police protection. Just at the moment when relieve is about to take place, director David Michod stuns with the rise of Jacki Weaver (Joshua's grandmother) who becomes for a moment becomes the family's kingpin. With a one-shot final, Michod puts an end of his delivery, but not an end of the story. Long after the final credits one would be thinking about what would have happened after the final credits, what could have been Joshua's future, etc.
A minor flaw of Animal Kingdom is the lack of character development. This could be partially explained by the fact that David Michod has focused on the story as a whole, on the family as a whole and not on the particular members of this family. Still, the performances are spectacular and diversified. Joel Edgerton (Baz) captures a significant level of attention in spite of his short screen time (second mesmerizing role after Warrior), but the true star of the movie is Jacki Weaver as the grandmother and protector of the "family values".
Animal Kingdom is a movie which will not leave anybody indifferent. It is shocking, it is unpleasant and extremely dark. All of this is achieved thanks to the simple and realistic approach of David Michod. Animal Kingdom is not for the mainstream audience, it demands a lot, but in the end it truly rewards its viewers.