First-time filmmaker David Michôd takes a familiar crime-story situation and spins it into gold with this grim ensemble piece. In contemporary Melbourne, Australia, a young man named J (played by newcomer James Frecheville) comes to live with his uncles and grandmother, just as their robbery and drug-dealing enterprise is falling apart — and he has to choose. Will he become a psychotic killer like Uncle Pope (Ben Mendelsohn), or just an ordinary animal like Craig (Sullivan Stapleton) or Darren (Luke Ford)? Or something slightly worse, like eerie Grandma Smurf (Jacki Weaver, in an unforgettable performance)? Stir in a dogged police detective (Guy Pearce) and a few crooked cops, and you’ve got a neo-noir of epic proportions, enacted in a cramped suburban space. Director Michôd’s screenplay is a model of compressed, naturalistic menace. Recommended (112 min.).
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It's all about animal magnetism.