Animal Kingdom- Loyalty to Family, or Law? Film Review

Animal Kingdom, directed by David Michôd, portrays the life of a recently orphaned teenager who is introduced to low-level crime by his family. The movie is set in Melbourne and is a distinctive and murky family drama. Even though Animal Kingdom was his directorial debut, Michod has treated the movie with maturity. The characters in the movie seem to be mysterious and create an air of curiousness throughout.

The movie revolves around J Mendelsohn (played by James Frecheville), who decides to stay with his grandmother after his mother dies due to heroin overdose. Unaware of the fact that his mother always safeguarded him from his grandmother and uncles because of their criminal dealings, J starts assisting his uncles in minor criminal activities. After J’s uncle Baz (played by Joel Edgerton) is killed by the police, his uncle Pope (played by Ben Mendelsohn) along with his other brothers, plots against the force. J also helps them kill honest officers without realising the entire plot.

Later, detective Leckie (played by Guy Pearce), realizes that getting hold of young J would be the best way to catch his uncles. Initially J stands by his family, but as his uncles’ behaviour become erratic, he starts helping the police.

Throughout, Animal Kingdom focuses on the theme of loyalty. Pope’s brothers refuse to support him when he is at his worst phase and J is at a position where he has to decide if he has to be loyal to his family, in spite of his uncle’s criminal activities.

David Michôd has chosen his actors well. Frecheville as young J Mendelsohn has done a great job. The characterization of the grandmother (played by Jacki Weaver) is also noteworthy, as it is the transformation in the character that leads the movie to a very rewarding conclusion.

The movie is impressive and we give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

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