Opening scenes are a little confusing since son is merely watching TV and waiting for the paramedics to arrive after mom overdoses on heroin. 17 and on his own now he subsequently calls grandma who simply asks if he has had time to pack a bag. Not one tear is shed and not one further word is said about dearly departed mom.
That’s the danger in thinking everyone lives in the middle of the emotional distribution curve. Later you realize the family is anything but ‘normal’, its a impetuous crime family mom tried hard to keep son from knowing; the irony that he would wind up living with them.
The problem coming from a crime family is that someone is always looking to hurt you. This occurs, of course, but the Godfather-like retaliation spirals out of control with family on family betrayal. The only wrench is a local policeman, investigating the retaliatory crimes, who thinks he can save the son.
Acting is good, particularly from Guy Pearce who plays good-cop. While not as dramatic as his performance in Memento, still noteworthy as he shores up belief that he can do good in the midst of unraveling circumstances.
Timing and delivery of the plot in Animal Kingdom comes close to falling into the rhythm of The Departed – harsh and unrelenting. However, good-cop riding in to save the day balances out the downward spiral and is an interesting facet that plays out with a sledgehammer result. I liked but did not love this film. If you’re looking for an Australian rendition of a crime drama with an unsettling tone and some unexpected twists, its a good watch, otherwise you could just re-watch Goodfellas and imagine them with Ozzie accents.