Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
Watch On
  1. 100
    It's a distinctive, ominous and hypnotic work of cinema.
  2. 100
    Faultlessly acted by top Australian talent, including Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom marries heightened emotionality with cool contemporary style.
  3. A phenomenal debut feature with a terrific title, David Michôd's Animal Kingdom is both a study in Darwinian survival-in this case survival of the shrewdest-and a group portrait of ruthless predators in the underworld of Melbourne, Australia.
  4. It's a remarkable film: A gritty, gut-churning, crime thriller based on a true story. Its greatness lies in its unwavering fidelity to human nature and the unstoppable laws of the wild.
  5. Don't be fooled: In this unpeaceable kingdom, the den mama is also ready to eat her young.
  6. The film's depiction of the raw fear lurking below the brothers' braggadocio is the most pronounced emotion in a movie whose focus on the personalities of its criminals suggests an Australian answer to "Goodfellas," minus the wise-guy humor.
  7. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    First-time writer/director David Michod reportedly worked for eight years on his screenplay, deepening its tale of a violently dysfunctional family until its gangster conventions feel as if they're in the service of a modern-day Greek tragedy.
  8. 90
    This could have been a slick little thriller. Instead, it evolves into the unfolding of an epic tragedy.
  9. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    A contemplative crime drama with a high startlement quotient.
  10. The naturalistic style Michod employs adds to the sense of dread.
  11. 90
    A densely textured moral universe that makes good on his metaphoric title-and in this case, the animals are perfectly willing to eat their young.
  12. Reviewed by: Moira Macdonald
    All of the performances are skilled, and yet it's Weaver (a veteran screen, television and stage actress in Australia) who, in a smaller role, creates the character who stays with you.
  13. Among the most gripping, well-paced, acted and directed, and generally thrilling of anything that I've seen (yet) this year.
  14. Like "The Square," the startling Down Under noir released a few months ago, Animal Kingdom explores the down and dirty side of human nature, fraught with greed, suspicion, and betrayal.
  15. 88
    Animal Kingdom moves with a brisk efficiency - Michôd trusts the viewer and doesn't waste time with unnecessary back story - and the plot twists and turns at brutal speed.
  16. 83
    The choicest performance in Animal Kingdom is Weaver's sing-song sinister matriarch of the Cody clan, a cheery sort with the benign nickname "Mama Smurf."
  17. 83
    Animal Kingdom joins in the tradition of brutally unsentimental Australian crime dramas like "The Boys," in which the stakes are low, except to the people staring down the barrel of a gun.
  18. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Feb 21, 2011
    A dark rites-of-passage story meets lethal Shakespearean drama, with low-key performances that artfully get under the skin.
  19. A naturalistic drama rich in psychology and attention to details. There's no glamour here, but one false move by anyone can result in death, so tension fills nearly every scene.
  20. The strength of Animal Kingdom is its slow-building fatalism; the criminals' luck runs out, but then finds depressing extension via an out-of-left-field collaborator. It's a movie that has very little faith in authority, not even in Guy Pearce's righteous detective. The only law here is Darwin's.
  21. Most crime stories are content to simply exist, wallowing in their own base violence. But David Michôd's fierce debut takes the genre apart, finding a reason for the madness that propels it.
  22. In many ways, Animal Kingdom could have become a stylish but routine cops-and-robbers tale. Instead, Michôd shapes this film into a memorable character study about uncaged beasts.
  23. Reviewed by: Andy Klein
    All very grim and unrelenting; Michôd generates some nail-biting suspense, though it's not the sort of experience that many people are likely to enjoy.
  24. 75
    Writer-director David Michôd catches you in a vise and squeezes - hard.
  25. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    You probably won't see a better directorial debut this year than David Michôd's Animal Kingdom.
  26. Animal Kingdom isn't perfect: Some performance moments are over-ripe, and there's an episode of arbitrary cruelty that's excessively creepy.
  27. Reviewed by: Stephanie Merry
    The most troubling aspect of the story -- and its most compelling -- is the emphasis on banal, everyday life.
  28. 75
    Because Animal Kingdom is so richly suffused with atmosphere and style, you could almost float right past the deficiencies in its story in an admiring trance.
  29. 75
    The film is shaky as a procedural, and the level of official corruption seems more Moscow than Melbourne. Yet as a fable of power, vengeance and betrayal it exerts a quiet, increasingly wicked pull, equivalent to that of the wrinkly but ruthless grandma.
  30. 75
    Frightening stuff, and made all the more so because of how matter-of-factly by writer-director David Michôd plays it.
  31. 75
    It's rooting against grandma that drives this violent, hardhearted film, and waiting for the pride of lions she's created to devour her that gives Animal Kingdom its animal energy.
  32. Early on, writer-director David Michôd serves up "Trainspotting"-like tricks and narration that is beguiling, if rarely apropos. But the actors are something.
  33. Michôd wants a Greek epic but doesn't have the material. Animal Kingdom is a work of obvious ambition, and seeing a debut filmmaker swing for the fences like this is its own kind of moviehead satisfaction.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 102 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 31
  2. Negative: 1 out of 31
  1. Aug 13, 2010
    This little Australian movie is a class above every other film I have seen this year...'and yes, that does include the much over-hypedThis little Australian movie is a class above every other film I have seen this year...'and yes, that does include the much over-hyped Inception'! With its tiny budget and mostly unknown cast, it does what few movies can, it presents a completely realsitic crime world and a family lost and swimming deep in its depths. The acting is amazing and the tension created through the interactions of this 'family' is nail bitingly tense at the best of times. Its the first movie in ages that I inhaled as it started and exhaled as the credits rolled...ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!! Full Review »
  2. Aug 15, 2010
    When the credits rolled, I sat there stunned with this goofy grin on my face. This was easily one of the best 3 or 4 movies I've seen thisWhen the credits rolled, I sat there stunned with this goofy grin on my face. This was easily one of the best 3 or 4 movies I've seen this year, and I see a bunch of 'em. It's so rich and so layered that I don't even want to discuss much of it in detail. It's a movie about a Melbourne family known for taking down banks, but it's more specifically about a young family member's learning to survive in the animal kingdom. The acting is uniformly superb. The writing does away with all of the hackneyed scenes we've seen a thousand times before. There's no need for the courtroom scene, or that of the young grieving widow, or funerals. We've been there. The story is like an extremely taut dramatic rope that gets tweaked about every 15 minutes or so. It was just one hell of a refreshing film. Do what you can to see this thing. Not everyone in my crew loved it as much as I did, but we talked about it continuously for about a half hour when it was over. This has been a tough year for quality movies - don't let the choice steak slip through your fingers (as someone once told me). Full Review »
  3. Apr 7, 2011
    I must be in the minority here but this dark family crime drama didn't do it for me at all.I thought it was slow and tediously annoying.TheI must be in the minority here but this dark family crime drama didn't do it for me at all.I thought it was slow and tediously annoying.The lead character Josh played by James Frenchville I didn't think the kid could act.It seemed he didn't have much to say or any emotion when he said anything.I saw where somebody had said that this was the Australian version of The Town and I couldn't disagree stronger with that.The Town is way better in every respect.I found myself looking at the clock wondering when this thing is going to be over.I can't recommend this one though it seems just about everybody else loved it..4/10. Full Review »