Animal Kingdom

Rated 4.0

In writer-director David Michôd’s riveting crime drama set in Australia, most of the cops are crooked, and the criminals are dumb, disturbed shits lacking a certain cinematic flash. This makes them all the more frightening. James Frecheville is very good as Joshua Cody, a Melbourne teenager who must go live with his grandmother and her criminal family after his mother dies of an overdose. Ben Mendelsohn is unpredictable and frightening as Pope, a disturbed man in trouble with the police and causing trouble for himself, his family and his friend Barry (Joel Edgerton). Things quickly get out of hand, and Joshua must decide if he’s going to help a well-meaning officer (Guy Pearce) take his family down. Jacki Weaver is scary as Joshua’s mild-mannered, evil grandma, and Pearce has a cool vibe about him. Michôd gives his film epic scope. It’s his feature-length debut, and it is a mighty impressive one. And I must give props for his excellent usage of Air Supply.