Film review

ANIMAL KINGDOM

ANIMAL KINGDOM

DIRECTED BY David Michôd
STARRING James Frecheville, Ben Mendelsohn

Writer-director David Michôd’s fine debut is set in Melbourne’s recent past.

Really, though, the Cody family festering at the centre could be contemporaries of The Proposition’s feral outlaw brood.

Similarly exploring revenge and blood loyalty, Michod’s tale has a stunned, scuzzy neo-noir modernity, but the outline of a classic western.

Newcomer Frecheville plays blank, burdened teen Joshua “J” Cody. Suddenly orphaned, he’s thrown into the claustrophobic embrace of relatives he’s previously been kept away from.

The family is at war with the city’s rampaging armed robbery squad, and when cops execute one of their number, dominant brother Pope (Mendelsohn) demands vengeance, dragging J into their codes of violence and silence.

As the weary cop who seems to offer a way out, Guy Pearce offers a quiet performance that suggests he’s entering his Henry Fonda years.

But it’s Mendelsohn’s unreadable psychotic you’ll remember, even if you’d rather not.

Damien Love

Opens February 25, Cert 15, 113 mins


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