A youngster is given an inside look at a criminal empire that also happens to be his family in this independent drama. Teenage Joshua Cody (James Frecheville) is suddenly on his own after his mother’s drug habit catches up with her, and he’s taken in by his grandmother Smurf (Jacki Weaver), usually regarded as the black sheep of the family. Joshua quickly learns Smurf’s reputation is well deserved; she and her four sons are members of a mid-level crime syndicate that operates out of her home in Melbourne. Baz (Joel Edgerton) looks after the money and is urging Smurf to move into something legit, Pope (Ben Mendelsohn) is a criminal jack-of-all-trades who never lets go of a grudge, Darren (Luke Ford) is an enforcer with an unfortunate weak streak, and Craig (Sullivan Stapleton) is a drug dealer who has become addicted to his own product. When Baz is murdered, the family’s voice of reason is gone, and the unstable Pope takes the lead in the family’s hierarchy; as a war breaks out between rival families, Joshua is moved out of the house to keep him safe. But Nathan Leckie (Guy Pearce) is a police detective who has found out who Joshua is and what he knows, and he tries to convince the teenager to help him put the Cody family behind bars, though Joshua isn’t certain about his loyalties to these outlaws who are also his blood. The first feature film from director David Michod, Animal Kingdom was an official selection at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, where it received the World Cinema Jury Prize for Best Dramatic Feature. – Mark Deming, All Movie Guide (Source)
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