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 …
User Reviews: I don’t know what it is about Australian cinema and filmmakers these past 15 years, but they are just getting better and better. OK, so we here in the Northern Hemisphere don’t necessarily get to see the dross. Granted. But what we do see shows that there’s talent galore down under. There are, of course, talented actors, writers, cinematographers and directors around the world, but at the moment Australia seems to have found its own voice, its own style which is not just unique, but interesting, accomplished and gripping.
Unlike so much high-energy Hollywood dreck, Animal Kingdom relies on a good script, a gripping story, good acting, solid characterisation and great directing. There is no gratuitous flashiness to cover up bald patches. This particular film’s style is minimalist, the camera hand-held (as far as I can see) throughout. But that doesn’t lead to tricksy artiness.
It allows the actors to act – it’s what they do best after all – with none of them falling back onto the schtick they are always hired for – Bruce Willis being Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise, you get the picture. All I can say is if you get the chance to catch this, catch it. Oh, and keep making them, Australia.