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Animal Kingdom

by Daniel Robson

Director: David Michôd

Language: English

Running time: 113

In the darkly immersive directorial debut from Australian screenwriter David Michôd (“Hesher”), freshly orphaned teen Josh (James Frecheville) must choose between loyalty to his family of bank-robbing, drug-dealing uncles, headed by matriarch (Jacki Weaver), and, well, to himself. The hypnotic, ambient soundtrack builds tension as a bent police squad picks off family members one by one, forcing paranoid psychopath lead uncle Pope (Ben Mendelsohn) to escalate retaliations. Performances are excellent all round, the plot is unpredictable and — crucially — the physical violence takes a backseat to the psychological.