Directed and Written by David Michod
Starring James Frecheville, Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford, Ben Mendelsohn, Guy Pearce, Jackie Weaver
1hr 52 minutes
Releases 8/13/2010

Animal Kingdom is another terrific Aussie film, following the equally good The Square and also using the talents of Joel Edgerton. When friends tell me they are headed for Australia, I can’t help but visualize these two movies, which portray an Australia that is not very different from the tough streets here.

PLOT- Joshua, called J by his murderous family, the Codys, loses his mother to heroin and is forced to move in with his estranged grandmother and uncles. There’s a good reason for the estrangement-this is a murderous bunch of bank robbers who are living afoul of the law. The first scenes in the movie use a voice-over, which quickly goes away, but before it does, Joshua makes one salient point. Everyone in the family lives in fear and that fear incapacitates them in various ways. The most terrifying member of the brood is Grandmother Smurf, played to perfection by Jackie Weaver, who takes her time in showing her hand. J tries his best to keep out of harm’s way, to live a normal life, but such is not the way of the Codys. A detective (Pierce) tries to help him, but uses him at the same time. The police in this film are as subject to incompetence and corruption as the family. There is no safe place for J and he makes the choices this knowledge dictates.

This was one terrific movie. There is not a slack moment in it. Even when a prosaic moment occurs, it’s working toward a future scene. It will shock you at several points. Highly recommended.

Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.