ANIMAL KINGDOM (2009 AUSTRALIA) D/W: DAVID MICHOD P: LIZ WATTS
James Frecheville (who narrates) stars as a teen who has to go and live with his grandmother (Jacki Weaver) after his mother dies of a heroin overdose. Also living with them are his three uncles (Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford and Sullivan Stapleton), small-time armed robbers led by a fourth uncle in hiding (top-billed Ben Mendelsohn). Corrupt, trigger-happy Melbourne cops are all too ready to take them down with bullets (this is loosely based on real-life events from Walsh Street in the 80s). Not only is this a top-notch drama and character study, it`s also a first-class crime drama that gets increasingly tense and gripping, as Frecheville has to find his allegiance between sociopathic family and the law (represented by Sgt. Guy Pearce), as tit-fot-tat violence escalates. The performances are across-the-board excellent, but in particular Frecheville (soon to star in the Bobby Fuller biopic I FOUGHT THE LAW!), Weaver and Mendelsohn as a predatory, creepy crime patriarch unlike most seen in crime cinema. With Dan Wylie also good as a dodgy lawyer. Apparently Michod can be spotted as a reporter. Most highly recommended.

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