Aussie actors steal spotlight in "Animal Kingdom"

Thu Aug 12, 2010 7:49pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Russell Crowe, Eric Bana and Sam Worthington may be in favor in Hollywood, but a new group of Aussie actors are winning fans in indie crime drama "Animal Kingdom" and could soon challenge their countrymen with jobs in studio movies.

The movie, which debuts in major U.S. cities on Friday, likens remaining alive in the Australian crime world to the theory of survival-of-the-fittest, which has always been the rule of maintaining a strong Hollywood career.

"Animal Kingdom" was named best dramatic film by judges at January's Sundance film festival, and if early reviews are any indication, it is having similar sway with critics.

The movie features Guy Pearce, who is fairly well-known in the United States, but surrounding him is an ensemble that includes Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford, Sullivan Stapleton and Jacki Weaver -- hardly U.S. household names.

It tells of an alienated teenage boy who moves into the Melbourne home of his grandmother and once there, follows the path of his volatile uncles into a world of robbery, drug-dealing and murder while also being pursued by police.

Director and writer David Michod, who is making his debut feature film with "Animal Kingdom," spent 10 years developing the story among other projects and said the title is derived from its "social Darwinist survival-of-the-fittest theme."

"I wanted it to be about cops and robbers and everything in between and the ways in which all of these different animals, in a sense, move in this particular jungle and the way they brush up against each other," he told Reuters.

The movie has been compared to British crime films of the past decade with numerous twists and turns.   Continued...