David Michod's Animal Kingdom is a sun-bleached Australian crime drama that I mentioned delivers in a way that Ben Affleck's The Town just couldn't quite match. It has a creeping sense of familial tension and paranoia that eventually boils to a head with a stunner of a conclusion.
At its center is a liberating self-journey as Josh (James Frecheville) - almost mute - takes his inherited family of criminals and bearded baddies and slowly and then violently disrupts the natural hierarchy.
Josh, with his innocent reserve and submissive mentality a drastically effective contrast to his uncles' overflowing machismo, is a fascinating character to center this drugworld saga around - not a story of crime ladder ascension, but a slow and steady dismantling.
Frecheville has a unique appeal as Josh, introverted to the point of immobility yet surrounded by bullish thugs, yet its Ben Mendelsohn as the sinister Uncle Andrew who steals the film and emerges as chief villain in this slow-burning, epic family struggle. [B+]