starring Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford, Guy Pearce
written and directed by David Michôd
starring Mads Mikkelsen, Maarten Stevenson, Gordon Brown, Andrew Flanagan
screenplay by Roy Jacobsen & Nicolas Winding Refn
directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
by Walter Chaw David Michôd's Animal Kingdom respects its audience, a rare commodity during the best of times. The film flatters us by leaving exposition and backstory to our knowledge of anthropology--in fact, Animal Kingdom is best indicated by its unwavering reserve--a reluctance, almost--to say too much when slow, fluid tracking motions and static, medium-distance establishing shots may suffice. Consider a frankly gorgeous tableau late in the film as three people meet in Melbourne's National Gallery of Victoria: framed against an open space, Michôd allows an extra beat, then another, before continuing with his family gothic. The story isn't an afterthought, but the dialogue, however minimal, seems to be. The picture's told through its actions and its images and, in that way, reminds of a Beat Takeshi film, of all things, what with its focus on criminality and its enthralling slowness. If there's another indie demiurge to which Michôd pays obeisance, it's Michael Mann--and the success of the picture (as shrine to masculinity, as introspective character study) suggests that cribbing from Kitano and Mann, if it's as successful a larceny as this, can be successful in no other way.