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
On some of the exterior shooting days, the wind was so strong that the Steadicam cameras could barely be operated, and occasionally broke down. See more »
[after the death of Craig]
I'm having trouble trying to find my positive spin. I'm usually very good at it. Usually it's right there, and I can just have it. But I'm having trouble finding it now.
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I will be honest, I have always found it hard to get excited about seeing an Aussie movie. I'm of the general opinion that the Oz film industry is normally too wrapped up in being 'true blue' that they forget to make films with a universal theme and subsequently building an output that strays very little. Well hasn't 2010 proved me wrong. First there was the breath of fresh air that was Bran Nue Dae followed by the memorable American-set debut by Sydney director Andrew Lancaster, Accidents Happen, and the moving WWI drama Beneath Hill 60. Then, like the final dose of a patriotic inoculation to my anti-Oz entertainment views of old, comes first-timer David Michod's Sundance winning Animal Kingdom, gaining my first five-star rating for the year.
With nary a flaw to be found, this crime-drama unfolds at a terrifically slow-burning yet somehow exhilarating pace. The intricately detailed tale has been crafted with such care and dedication that every single frame seems to be oozing with importance, whilst the amazing soundtrack significantly adds to the immersive atmosphere. Drawing you in from the very first scene and never letting you go, you can't help but think about what happens long after the final credits roll. The ambitious movie-making and successful result is even more remarkable when you consider that Michod never resorts to gratuitousness (with violence or sex) or over-the-top, colourful personalities fallback devices for many modern 'gangster' pictures instead allowing his immaculately constructed story and deeply invested characters, all of whom share a layered relationship with one another, to sweep us away.
Jacki Weaver has received numerous critical plaudits for her unnerving performance as Grandma Smurf a resourceful, persevering women who'll stop at nothing to protect her boys and deservedly so; the powerful handle she has on her sons and her willingness to embrace the criminal environment is deeply disturbing and chilling. Also tremendous, and for me the acting highlight of the picture, is Mendelsohn. An eerily quiet felon that can explode into unhinged and desperate violence at any moment, the monstrous Pope commands every bit of our attention. Witnessing his calm exterior when being arrested by the cops for a heinous crime either because he assumes he'll go free or because going to prison just doesn't faze him is extraordinary. Elsewhere youngsters Frecheville and Ford do a commendable job holding their own against such an experienced cast; Stapleton is fascinating as the drug-fuelled middle sibling; adding class and impact as always is international star Pearce whilst the immensely talented Edgerton presents a likable and charismatic alternative as Cody family friend Barry.
A triumph of Australian cinema, this could very well be one of our nation's greatest.
5 out of 5 (1 - Rubbish, 2 - Ordinary, 3 - Good, 4 - Excellent, 5 - Classic)
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