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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Review: Animal Kingdom

Rating: 5/5

As director David Michôd stated in his question and answer session following Animal Kingdom last night, what he was aiming for with this film was a text that was 'cinematic'. Michôd achieves this and more in a film that is dark, brooding, claustrophobic and could teach Hollywood a thing or two.

Set in Melbourne and studying the decline of a crime family, the anger and violence of this story is expertly nuanced and underplayed, a technique that makes for a heady climax. Rather than the goal-oriented protagonist that has characterized Hollywood since the 1960s and been standardized through the screenwriting manuals of Syd Field, Linda Seger and others, Michôd's protagonist is only 18 and, for the most part, silent. James Frecheville pulls off this silence with an intensity that makes the film both meditative and chilling, chronicling the interminable position of one who's choices in life are limited by others. In doing so, Michôd achieves a film that lets the images rather than the narration drive the story to show the dark side of Melbourne's very public crime scene.

This film won the Grand Jury Prize for World Drama at Sundance and it certainly deserves it. Featuring a cast of established Aussie actors who give outstanding performances, this film is a must-see in the Film Festival.

Animal Kingdom is showing as part of New Zealand's International Film Festival, click here for more information.

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