Audiences have long been trained to expect contrasting values of loyalty and pitiless expediency when it comes to pop portrayals of felonious families, whether they be the Corleones or the Sopranos. David Michd's Australian crime drama presents a milieu in which the cruelest survive and devotion is a fungible commodity. After the death of his mother, 17-year-old J (James Frecheville) is taken in by his vile, bank-robbing extended family They're being hounded by duplicitous cops who are more interested in retribution than evidence gathering. The screenplay is loosely inspired by police shootings that took place in Melbourne in 1988. A sociopathic vibe permeates Animal Kingdom
, as the (threat of) violence that dictates every twist and turn feels not so much shocking as eerily inevitable. Michd's minimalist staging ratchets up the tension and eschews any glorification of this crime family's misdeeds, choosing instead to wallow in its deconstruction.