Nick Schager Reviews Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom wrongly assumes certain characters deserve empathy simply because they’re protagonists. A Melbourne crime film cast in a familiar mold and awash in unwarranted pretentiousness, David Michôd’s debut concerns the illicit odyssey thrust upon J (James Frencheville), a 17-year-old who, after his mother’s OD death, goes to live with his grandmother and uncles—all stick-up artists—he’d previously been kept away from. As envisioned by Michôd and embodied by Frencheville, J is a complete and utter nothing, a cipher whose expressionless mug doesn’t mask deep, conflicted emotions, but instead reflects total blankness.

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