February 26, 2011

Animal Kingdom Photo Gallery

Directed by David Michôd
Produced by Liz Watts
Written by David Michôd
Starring Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Guy Pearce, Luke Ford, Jacki Weaver, Sullivan Stapleton, James Frecheville
Music by Antony Partos
Cinematography Adam Arkapaw
Editing by Luke Doolan
Studio Screen Australia, Porchlight Films, Film Victoria, Screen NSW, Fulcrum Media Finance, Showtime Australia
Distributed by Madman Entertainment
Release date(s) 22 January 2010 (2010-01-22) (Sundance), 3 June 2010 (2010-06-03)
Running time 112 minutes
Country Australia
Language English
Budget AU$5 million
Gross revenue US$5,775,563

Guy Pearce as Nathan Leckie
Jacki Weaver as Janine 'Smurf' Cody
Jacki Weaver as Janine 'Smurf' Cody
James Frecheville as Joshua 'J' Cody
Jacki Weaver as Janine 'Smurf' Cody
James Frecheville as Joshua 'J' Cody
James Frecheville as Joshua 'J' Cody

After his mother overdoses on heroin, Joshua 'J' Cody is forced to move in with his estranged grandmother, Janine 'Smurf' Cody, the matriarch of a notorious Melbourne crime family. Also living with J's grandmother are her three sons, the Cody Boys. Her eldest son is an armed robber named Andrew 'Pope' Cody, and is in hiding from a group of renegade detectives. The middle brother, Craig, is a successful but volatile drug dealer, and youngest brother Darren follows the lead of his older brothers.

J's uncle Craig takes J for a drive and is insulted at a set of traffic lights by a man in a neighbouring car. After handing J a handgun, Craig follows the man and his accomplice to an alley, where the car pulls up and the man gets out, attempting to provoke a fight between himself and Craig. Instead, Craig prompts J to get out of the car and scare off the assailant. Later, Pope's best friend and partner in crime Barry 'Baz' Brown goes to meet Pope at a shopping center claiming that he wishes to quit the robbery game and settle down with his family, suggesting that Pope join him and the pair take up stock investment. As Baz goes to leave, he is encountered by police. After telling the police that Pope has left, the police shoot Baz dead. The tension between the family and the Police explode, and soon J is asked to steal a car and bring it to the middle of a road. J complies, and two policemen are drawn to the scene, where they are ambushed and killed by Pope, Craig and Darren.

The next day, Pope, Darren and J are arrested and taken in for questioning where J meets Senior Police Officer Nathan Leckie (who also leads the armed robbery squad), who takes interest in J's situation and seeks to relieve him from it. The three are later released from custody. Later, Craig has escaped to a friend's house in regional Victoria, where he finds that he is being monitored. Despite an escape attempt, police arrive and kill Craig as he runs away. Meanwhile, J is arrested by Officer Leckie for underage drinking and is taken to a hotel for temporary housing. There, Leckie proposes that J be moved to a more permanent witness protection. J turns down the offer.

The situation becomes more intense. While J is in police custody, Pope kills J's girlfriend, Nicky (Laura Wheelwright), as Darren watches because he incorrectly thought she had been talking to the police. This triggers the arrest of Pope and Darren, who are placed in jail. With Craig and Baz dead and Pope and Darren imprisoned, Smurf decides, "J needs to go," as he is the star witness in the murder case and indeed their armed robbery charges. Smurf uses her connections to procure J's address and organize a raid on that address where J will be shot and killed, but J escapes when he sees armed police heading for the building. J then returns to Smurf's house, saying, "I can't live like this," and that he wishes to help free Pope and Darren from jail. To do this, the family's lawyer sets up J's answers so that a hole can be formed in the case, forcing the release of the pair from prison. Directly following the court session, Leckie visits J, asking him if he had found his place in the world.

After Pope and Darren's release, J returns to Smurf's home asking to stay. After Smurf lets him in, J goes to greet Pope and Darren before going to his room. Pope enters and begins to talk to him, but is cut off when J shoots him in the head. In the final shot of the film, J returns to the living room to embrace an uneasy and uncomfortable Smurf.

The movie is loosely inspired by the real life Pettingill family, and by the Walsh Street police shootings that occurred in Melbourne in 1988. Director David Michôd was interested in the underworld in Melbourne and wrote a script titled J. Working at Screen NSW Script Development, fellow producer Liz Watts saw potential in the script. Watts said, "It needed more characterisation and structure, which he kind of agreed with. It was important to me that he recognise that there was still work to be done on it." David Michôd then did a number of draft scripts gaining feedback from all different people in the film industry. Liz Watts then became a producer on the film with a budget of $5 million from Screen Australia, Film Victoria, Screen NSW and Showtime Australia.

Animal Kingdom was filmed in Melbourne, Victoria. The outside funeral scene was filmed in Ivanhoe, Victoria.

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