It’s no secret that the Australian film industry does dark and broody tales better than most other countries. Movies like Chopper, Romper Stomper, Rover and shows like Mr. In Between prove that when it comes to shit that involves murder, antiheroes and violence, we’re pretty damn good at it.
If you’re sick of scrolling through Netflix and are in the mood for something a little sinister, then you need look no further than David Michôd’s 2010 mob/family drama Animal Kingdom. Following orphaned teenager J (James Frecheville), who is thrust into a world of crime by his bank robber uncles and twisted grandmother (Jacki Weaver), the film will have you on edge for two hours as shit just gets worse and worse for the family.
I’m clenching up just thinking about it. But if you need some more convincing, check out five reasons why you should dip into it tonight, below:
It’s rare that a performance in a non British or American film is so widely praised, and Jacki Weaver’s Oscar-winning turn as Janine “Smurf” Cody deserves every little bit of acclaim that it attracted. Deeply disturbed, manipulative and devious, there’s something fucken crazy going on behind those eyes at all times…
Guy Pearce who played Detective Nathan Leckie and writer/director David Michôd would reconnect for what was one of the best films of the 2010s a few years after Animal Kingdom, working on the futuristic western The Rover together. I can only imagine that this film doing so well is one of the reasons that project happened. So for that, we thank Animal Kingdom.
For every drop of Janine Cody’s creepy kookiness, there is a pint of Pope’s (Ben Mendelsohn) slippery evilness. After his performance in Animal Kingdom, Hollywood came knocking for the Aussie legend, with roles in Nolan’s Batman series, Star Wars, and Marvel all following. I could honestly listen to that voice forever.
On the surface this is a film about a family, but it’s hard to escape – and the title obviously put this in my head – the feeling that the Codys are a bunch of wild cats, viciously taking what they can, warring over territory and juggling power within. They battle with the cops over who are the hunters and who are the hunted, and so much happens under the surface that having David Attenborough narrate it would actually help us make sense of it all.
At the start of the film when you’re still trying to work out if this family is fucked (which they of course turn out to be), this scene makes you think they might actually be legends…