Despite being no saint herself, Julia Cody has shielded her seventeen year old son, Joshua "J" Cody, from her Melbourne-based criminal relatives who they have not seen in years. After Julia dies in front of J's eyes from a self-inflicted heroin overdose, J, who is slightly detached from life, feels he has no choice but to contact his maternal grandmother, Janine "Smurf" Cody, the family matriarch, for a place to live. Smurf rules the family with a borderline incestuous love over her three sons, the quietly menacing Andrew "Pope" Cody, the hyperactive Craig Cody, and the barely of age Darren Cody. Pope and his best friend, Barry "Baz" Brown, are armed robbers, with Darren their up and coming apprentice, while Craig is a mid level drug dealer. Melbourne's Armed Robbery Squad is after specifically Pope, who is hiding out. But when the standoff between the Codys and the Armed Robbery Squad is brought up a notch, an all out war ensues, with some casualties and J caught in the middle. The ... Written by
Joshua 'J' Cody:
Mum kept me away from her family because she was scared. I didn't realise it at the time, but they were all scared - even if they didn't show it. I think even Barry Brown was scared - even though he never showed it. Everyone felt safe around Baz. He'd punch your head off if ya got in the way - if he was in the middle of an armed robbin', you got between him and the door, he'd put you on the ground and not think twice about it. But he was good to me, and to everyone else. Darren was only a ...
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One of those movies that grabs you from the excellent opening credits as the camera pans over security camera stills of a gang of Melbourne thugs robbing banks. The audience, which was rustling noisy junk food through the previews, fell silent very quickly.
Jackie Weaver as the Matriarch of this crime family was amazing.
It felt a little "talkie" until about half way through, but there is tension right from the beginning that carries you through. Every character is connected to every other as if by springs quivering with tension or compression and the movie really delivers holding the resolution to the final frame where everything shifts into a new alignment.
I really enjoyed Animal Kingdom, it does not glamorize the life of these crims the way Underbelly or Sopranos does, and the cops reflect the dirty history of the Melbourne's finest too (Guy Pearce reprising his role in LA Confidential as a rare Mr Clean). Overall I think David Simon (The Wire) would approve of Animal Kingdom.
Anyone who has wondered how murderers can be loved by their Moms (isn't that most everyone?) should see this movie, it isn't a TV experience it really works well on the big screen.
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