Australian crime thriller and Sundance winner Animal Kingdom, is a fantastically scripted drama that also features a few very good acting performances. We know Guy Pearce is good in all his roles (The King’s Speech, The Road, The Hurt Locker, Memento – and on and on). He’s got a great scene with the scared and confused Josh, but the revelation was Jackie Weaver, who plays the matriarchal head of a family immersed in crime. Janine Cody (“Smurf”) will stop at nothing to protect her boyz, and she’s been at it for so long, she has her tentacles everywhere. A great study in under playing a role, Weaver simmers and jukes, outsmarting all those who want to bring her family down. Easy to see why her name popped up as a nominee at the GG’s for her actress supporting role. She was as deserving as any of the others had she won.
When her estranged daughter dies of a heroin overdose, her grandchild Josh, eighteen and alone, calls Janine for help. She takes him in as one of the family – of course there is a hierarchy, so when/if push comes to shove, you can figure that Josh will get the short end of the stick. The corrupt police force is hounding the family, picking them off one by one. As the noose tightens, Josh is seen as a weak link and has to be careful with whom he associates. You may suspect the ending, but so tightly scripted is the film that the climax still comes as a shock. The scenes and lawyer strategizing and preparation for trial are an integral part of the movie’s plot so pay careful attention.
I began to hear more about this film when the nominations for the GG’s were announced. Until then it had flown under the radar. Maybe it’s flown under yours as well. This Sundance winner is well worth viewing (it’s already on DVD – queue it up!). No excuses. This is the best movie I’ve seen all year…I know, I know. It’s only January.