"Not quite the Lion I was expecting"
For most of us, the closest we’ve come to any form of Australian cinema is repeated viewings of Neighbours or Home and Away. Suffice to say, we’re not used to stellar acting performances, or plot lines deeper than a puddle. Based on these viewing experiences, which most of us encounter from a very young age and have engrained in our memories. The stage is set therefore, for the multi award winning ‘Animal Kingdom’ to show the world that Australian cinema is in fact capable of breaking the mold.
Well the good news first – it’s safe to say that the mold is well and truly broken. ‘Animal Kingdom’ is packed full of fantastic performances, from the sullen, angst ridden performance of James Frecheville as ‘J’, to the frankly disturbing turn by Ben Mendleson as the ‘Pope’.
The film follows J as he turns from normal kid to part of a true criminal family, comprising of armed robbers, drug dealers, and general bad eggs. Heading up this family is the patriarchal grand mother Janine (a sinister performance by Jacki Weaver), a truly manipulative individual who will stop at nothing to keep her family together.
And it’s here that I start to get a little bit confused. All of the characters are well thought out, and well acted. The plot is well thought out, and the script well written. There are elements of surprise, suspense, emotion – literally all the key ingredients for a great film. However, for some reason I’m unable to put my finger on, I just never really managed to get into the film. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but at no point after leaving the cinema was I left thinking “wow that was incredible”, more a sense oh “hmmm, that was alright”.
So should you go and see it? There’s certainly more to recommend it than not. Maybe I’m still firmly set in the Aussie soap frame of mind.