Take a trip to the wilds of the Australian suburbs with a pack of dangerous animals who fight to survive and protect their family at all costs
Animal Kingdom, Tuesday 20 November, 9pm, VICE (CH 219). Cert 18
No, this isn’t the latest Attenborough documentary or Nat Geo series; it’s the violent crime family thriller, Animal Kingdom, from Australian director David Michôd (The Rover). But this, his debut film, certainly doesn’t shrink from showing the animalistic side of human nature with its unflinching portrayal of a family imploding.
Starring an abundance of Aussie acting talent, the film follows Joshua (James Frecheville), a young man who is taken in by the notorious Cody family after his mother dies of an overdose – and that’s just in the first scene. The Cody brothers are a bunch of brawling macho miscreants: Andrew “Pope” Cody (played by Ben Mendelsohn, who was Emmy nominated for the role), Craig (Sullivan Stapleton) and the youngest, Darren (Luke Ford). They are led by their scheming mother, Janine, played by Jacki Weaver, who won a Golden Globe for her portrayal, and family friend Barry Brown (Joel Edgerton), who is the only real voice of reason in the household.
Drawn into this horrifically dysfunctional household, Joshua faces danger not only from within the family but from the police force investigating them too. His only way out seems to be through Detective Senior Sergeant Nathan Leckie, played with usual panache by Guy Pearce. But while his moustache may be genuine (and it really is something to behold), can the same be said of his motives?
The story was inspired by the real-life Pettingill family and the notorious Walsh Street murders of 1988, in which two police officers were shot dead as revenge for the killing of an armed robber by Australian armed police. Michôd took this source material and reimagined it to create a crime masterpiece that regularly tops best film lists and has since inspired a TV series. It even made Quentin Tarantino’s pick for best films of 2010.
This isn’t just one of the best Australian movies ever. It’s arguably one of the best movies ever.
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