Animal Kingdom

Rated 3.0

Taken in by his grandmother (Jacki Weaver) and her four sons (Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford, Ben Mendelsohn and Sullivan Stapleton), a diffident teenaged orphan (James Frecheville) gets embroiled in the family business, which happens to be crime. So it’s a mixed blessing when a police detective (Guy Pearce) takes a paternal-seeming interest in him. Writer-director David Michôd’s feature debut treads in familiar indie-drama turf, but its Melbourne setting lends a certain exotic fascination. Its best asset is the collective characterization that comes from having gathered strong, subtle performances. Frecheville, a discovery, deserves the encouragement of his “and introducing” credit, even if his best and most expressive work occurs in voice-over narration that the film regrettably abandons.