Aussie drama Animal Kingdom kills at Sundance


Samson and Delilah was so 2009. It looks like the next big Australian export will be David Michôd’s crime drama Animal Kingdom, which is getting some rave reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

The film stars James Frecheville as a 17-year-old who must navigate survival amongst a criminal family. It co-stars Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford, Jackie Weaver and Anthony Hayes.

Writer/director Michôd’s year has gotten off to a very good start. Animal Kingdom, his feature film debut, is receiving some of the best notices from the fest, and looks like it might take the top prize in the World Cinema Narrative Competition.

Michôd also co-wrote the film Hesher, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, with director Spencer Susser. It is competing in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.

Here are some excerpts from reviews for Animal Kingdom:

“An ambitious and powerful study of the disintegration of an Australian crime family, “Animal Kingdom” is orchestrated with a grandiosity that invokes operatic and Greek dimensions. Writer-director David Michod’s unusually accomplished feature debut unfolds with a confident, almost antiquated sense of deliberation as the family incrementally implodes, taking others down with it.”

– Todd McCarthy, Variety.

“Add those subtle (and not-so-subtle) shocks to the sublime performances by Michôd’s ensemble and moody, expressive cinematography by Adam Arkapaw, and the reboot of the American crime saga — the birthright of heirs to Mann, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and select others — may actually have its roots Down Under. Who knew?

– S.T. Vanairsdale, Movieline.

“‘Animal Kingdom’ has Shakespearean qualities in its portrait of betrayal and paranoia, yet its very definitive Australian tone sets it apart from its Hollywood counterparts. This is a smart, compelling masterwork, a wonderful feature debut and a film destined for both Australian domestic and international success.”

– Paul Fischer, Moviehole.

“Americans may have created the perfect examples of the crime saga with The Godfather and The Sopranos, but Animal Kingdom proves that we don’t have a lockdown on compelling gangsters.”

– Katey Rich, Cinema Blend.

“Improve upon Michael Mann in his halcyon days as auteur in Manhunter and you’ve got Australia’s David Michod…Audacious as it may sound, Michod is ab-so-lutely fast-tracking Australian cinema back to its heyday of the late ’70s/early ’80s…should a studio choose to leave the film alone and let its 112 minutes play out on the big screen, it will jump start a genre (nay, a country’s film tradition) along with the careers of the cast and director — the ensemble sure to find great fortune in lesser films.”

– Andrew Pridgen, Salt Lake Magazine.

“Superb cinematography and production design capture Melbourne at its drabbest. The city’s tourism officials may not be proud of what the Animal Kingdom shows, but they will certainly recognise their town.”

– David D’Arcy, Screen Daily.

The festival concludes in a couple of days, so we will hopefully have news on whether or not the film is purchased by a distributor (which seems pretty likely). Perhaps we will even be celebrating a victory.

In the meantime, you can check out the film’s short teaser trailer which debuted during the AFI Awards telecast.

There is no Australian release date yet for Animal Kingdom. This will change very soon. (UPDATE – Our friends at the AFI have alerted us to the film’s release date: 6th May 2010)

Discuss: Aren’t you just beaming with patriotic pride?

One Response to “Aussie drama Animal Kingdom kills at Sundance”

  1. Aussie Release date is 6th May 2010 🙂

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