Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom
by David Michod (2010)

A boy, orphaned by his mother, goes to live in Melbourne with his grandmother and uncles, in one of the most feared criminal families in the city. He soon finds himself entangled in a bloody war against the local police.


“Little does she realize she’s grooming a viper, she’s grooming a spade, and she’s fine because she knows no better… No she doesn’t, she doesn’t know the half of it. She’s grooming a vixen to dive to dive into the den of the fox, eh?”
(Joshua ‘J’ Cody)

Janine “Smurf” Cody

Janine Cody, also known as “Smurf,” is the glue that holds the family together, the matriarch around whom everything revolves and finds justification.

This woman in her sixties doesn’t care if her children have reached a certain age and have a well-established criminal career: for her, they are and remain cubs to be protected at all costs and treated with tenderness.

So, when necessary, she is ready to become deadly and ruthless to defend them against anyone who may harm them.

It doesn’t matter where right and wrong lie, the crimes committed don’t matter: what matters is the preservation of the species.

That’s how it works in the animal kingdom, and that’s how it works in the Cody household.


Inspired by a true crime story from 1988, the director brings to the screen a ruthless family drama.

He mixes typical gangster movie elements, such as the criminal dealings of the protagonists, their domestic universe, and the open and violent challenge to law enforcement.

Some critics have evoked important and flattering comparisons with names like Scorsese and Mann.

In reality, I believe the strength of this film lies in the constant search for a personal style, in many respects close to that of documentary.

It’s no surprise considering that Michod started as an investigative reporter.

He uses an analytical method, highlighting the dynamics that move the characters, to try to explain how fear, corruption, and the instinct for survival can erase any sense of morality.

And thus, the comparison with the animal world explained in the title.

A film with dark tones, dominated by a cosmic pessimism, with little violence shown, but with a decidedly successful crescendo of tension and anxiety.

Add to this a cast of actors who perfectly embody their respective roles, among whom stand out Ben Mendelsohn (Uncle Pope) and Jackie Weaver (Janine Cody), who was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Animal Kingdom is a truly well-crafted film recommended to anyone who loves genre cinema.

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