February 21, 2011
I was only interested to watch this film owing to the unexpected nomination of one of its actors, Jackie Weaver, for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. I just wanted to see what she has done that denied nominations for Diane Wiest for "Rabbit Hole" or Mila Kunis for "Black Swan," both of whom for me were undeservingly snubbed.
The main story of "Animal Kingdom" is about 17 year old Josh (James Frecheville) whose mom dies in front of him from a drug overdose while they were watching TV. Grandma Janine (Weaver) gets Josh under her wing and thrusts him into the crazy criminal lives of her three boys Pope, Craig and Darren. I felt the set-up was too slow, and the film only comes to its own in the last thirty minutes or so.
The eldest son Pope (Ben Mendelsohn) was by far the craziest and most violent, and had the scariest presence on screen. Perhaps in too much contrast was Frecheville's portrayal of Josh in a blank-faced, almost autistic, manner. Jackie Weaver plays the matriarch who condones her sons' criminal activities. She only shows her true evil towards the final stretch. It is not anything new, as we have seen similar "terror moms" in films before. Her face looked disturbingly a lot like Manny Pacquiao's mother (my apologies to Aling Dionisia).
After watching this very long, excruciatingly plodding and occasionally violent Australian film about a demented manic family of cold-blooded killers, I am not that impressed with the Oscar-nominated performance of Jackie Weaver, and with the film as a whole.