- Cast: Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Guy Pearce, Luke Ford, Jacki Weaver, Sullivan Stapleton, James Frecheville, Dan Wyllie, Anthony Hayes, Laura Wheelwright, Mirrah Foulkes , Justin Rosniak, Susan Prior, Clayton Jacobson, Anna Lise Phillips, Christina Azucena, Jacqueline Brennan, Kieran Darcy-Smith, Jack Heanly, Josh Helman, Bert Labonte, Andy McPhee, Ben Ouwehand, Dom Phelan, Tim Phillipps, James Saunders
- Director: David Michôd
- Writer: David Michôd
- Producer: Liz Watts
- Executive Producers: Vincent Sheehan, Bec Smith
- Art Direction: Janie Parker
- Casting: Kirsty McGregor
- Costume Design: Cappi Ireland
- D.O.P.: Adam Arkapaw
- Editor: Luke Doolan
- Makeup: Kirsten Veysey
- Music: Antony Partos
- Production Design: Josephine Ford
"Animal Kingdom" is a powerful psychological crime drama that tells the story of a tense battle between a dangerous criminal family and the police.
Armed robber Pope Cody (Ben Mendelsohn) is in hiding, on the run from a gang of renegade detectives who want him dead. His business partner and best friend, Barry ‘Baz’ Brown (Joel Edgerton), wants out of the game, recognising that their days of old-school banditry are all but over. Pope’s younger brother, the speed-addicted and volatile Craig Cody (Sullivan Stapleton), is making a fortune in the illicit substances trade – the true cash cow of the modern criminal fraternity – whilst the youngest Cody brother, Darren (Luke Ford), naively navigates his way through this criminal world – the only world his family has ever known.
And into this world arrives their nephew, Joshua ‘J’ Cody (James Frecheville).
Following the death of his mother, J finds himself living with his hitherto estranged family, under the watchful eye of his doting grandmother, Smurf (Jacki Weaver), mother to the Cody boys. J quickly comes to believe that he is a player in this world. But, as he soon discovers, this world is far larger and more menacing than he could ever imagine.
When tensions between family and police reach a bloody peak, J finds himself at the centre of a cold-blooded revenge plot that turns the family upside down, and which also threatens to ensnare innocent bystanders such as his girlfriend, Nicky (Laura Wheelwright).
One senior cop, Nathan Leckie (Guy Pearce), must lure J into the police fold and then shepherd him through a complex minefield of witness protection, corrupt cops, slippery lawyers and a paranoid and vengeful underworld.
J comes to realise that in order to survive he must determine how the game is played – he must somehow choose his place in this cunning and brutal animal kingdom. He must work out where he fits.
- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Filming Locations: Melbourne, Australia
- MPAA Warning: Violence, drug content and pervasive language
- Production Budget: $4.6 million
- Production Companies: Porchlight Films, Screen Australia
The film was the recipient of the World Cinema dramatic Grand Jury prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
2010 Guide Analysis: Without question the biggest Australian success story of recent years in television was 2008's multi-award winning first season of "Underbelly" which looked at the brutal and often very public real-life Melbourne gangland wars between 1995 and 2004. Thus when acclaimed Aussie short filmmaker David Michod decided to try his hand at a feature-length Melbourne-set crime drama, some early comparisons popped up to that small screen major success. Early footage however has quietened the talk, showing us a far less over-reaching and more personal story about a family tearing itself apart with crime, corrupt cops and bursts of violence only adding fuel to the fire.
Michod himself has said he went to great lengths to "make a piece of cinema" and avoid the "Underbelly" comparisons though freely admits "it'll be interesting to see how it stands apart". The film itself is not debuting locally, rather having its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival where its become a hot ticket. Many noted Australian film critics are far too generous when it comes to local product, so it will be interesting to see the take more objective overseas critics have on the low-budget drama/thriller.