Movie Review: Animal Kingdom

I have been hearing rave reviews for the Australian film Animal Kingdom since it came out and was finally able to catch up with it this week.  The one thing I was most excited for was the performance of Jackie Weaver, who plays the matriarch in a family full of criminals.

I was sort of underwhelmed by the whole thing.  From the story to her performance.  In fact, I don’t even think she was the best one in the movie.  What I really dig about the current crop of Australian films is the acting – and that was definitely the strongest aspect of this film.  Everything felt real.  Authentic.  That is probably the best word to describe it.  And what I’m saying is that I enjoyed the movie, but after being so hyped on it – I was expecting more I guess.  That isn’t a knock on the film, by any means.  They do a great job, and it is a glimpse into a world I’m sure most of us know nothing about – sort of a suburban Australia, and the criminal element there.

We see this all unfold through the eyes of sullen, distant… completely vacant teen James Frecheville (sorry about that and thanks for the note Man from Oz). The grandson of Jackie Weaver, whose mother died of a heroin overdose and forces him to move into the home shared by his nefarious uncles and grandmother.  But he is the least interesting character in the entire piece, so the whole thing sort of feels vacant.  He’s a hollow shell of a human, drifting from one day to the next.  He’s got about 30 lines of dialogue in the whole thing – and I’m not sure if that’s exact, but it’s not an exaggeration.

It was better than The Square (just more interesting overall)… but I can’t wait for Red Hill.

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