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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Animal Kingdom': A Gripping and Heartbreaking Australian Crime Drama

Movie poster for the Australian film Animal Kingdom starring James Frecheville, Joel Edgerton and Ben Mendelsohn

​​“Animal Kingdom” (2012) is a gritty Australian crime thriller that follows 17-year old “J” (James Frecheville) who loses his mother to addiction and is forced to re-enter the lives of his extended family, a gnarly band of hardened Melbourne criminals.

Taken in by his grandmother (Jacki Weaver) and uncles (Joel Edgerton, Sullivan Stapleton and Ben Mendelsohn), J soon finds himself enmeshed in dangerous criminal activity while being hounded by a persistent and benevolent police detective (Guy Pearce) dedicated to saving him from destruction.

Written and directed by David Michôd (The Rover, War Machine), “Animal Kingdom” is a striking and heartbreaking depiction of innocence lost and dark family legacy, told in a strikingly engaging visual manner (major tip of the hat to Cinematographer Adam Arkapaw). Later re-imagined as an American television program by the same name, though the original film stands vastly superior in terms of quality, texture and emotional magnitude.


View the trailer:


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