Directed by: David Michôd. There is something alluring to me about the dirty, dusty, tanned, and sun-drenched desperation of an Australian crime film, just as there is with an Australian Western. Perhaps it’s simply another frontier: after being familiarized with depictions of American and British self-mythology, the Australian version is simply another one I haven’t seen (in the same language). Either way, I’m glad I found this film. Just as City of God was the Brazilian Goodfellas and Gomorra was an Italian Goodfellas, Animal Kingdom is touted as an Australian version of the iconic American gangster picture. But, just as with those others, the comparison here is fairly superficial. The cocaine-fast pace of Scorsese’s film is replaced by director Michôd—in his first film!—by a much more restrained plot, muted and subtle performances, minimal dialogue, and extended slow motion sequences. The slow motion parts, by the way, definitely risk pulling the film into some cliché territory, but it works effectively here, possibly owing to the novelty of such a moody, arty ambiance being used in a typically loud and ungraceful genre. There is a definite authority and grace to the directing by Michôd—in his first film!—which matches perfectly the deft performances by James Frecheville, Ben Mendelsohn, Jacki Weaver, and the undeniable Guy Pearce. I’ll definitely be paying more attention to these actors, this director, and Australian films in the future.