A public holiday on a coolish winter day, so off to the Westgarth Cinema to see Animal Kingdom. My wordy, there must have been a lot of cinemas along High Street pre-World War II. Most of them are closed now, turned into furniture shops, bingo halls and reception centres but the Westgarth (apparently Melbourne’s oldest functioning cinema) was beautifully restored a couple of years back. They resisted the temptation to turn it into a multiplex as such, and although the large cinema has been sliced in half to make one large and two smaller theatres, the art deco atmosphere has been well retained.
And Animal Kingdom– what a movie! I must be one of the handful of people in Melbourne who have NOT watched Underbelly, but any Melburnian would recognize the references to Melbourne’s crime scene in this movie- Walsh Street, Kath Pettingill. But these are just glancing references, not the story and the movie stands strong without being aware of the real-life parallels. It’s violent, jumpy and gripping. At one stage (I only need say ‘backing out the driveway’ to anyone who’s seen it and you’ll know the scene I mean) I gradually became aware that my heart was pounding so hard that I could feel it. There’s an almost suffocating distrust that seeps into you, and despite the film’s blue skies, warm weather, and the easiness and comfort of the grandmother figure (played by everyone’s favourite Jacki Weaver) the film feels claustrophobic and fraught with danger and evil.
And how strange to see familiar places- VERY familiar places like the East Ivanhoe shopping centre- associated with such dark deeds. It reminds me a bit of news reports after a shooting where neighbours shake their heads and say “I can’t believe it- it’s such a quiet street!”. I felt much the same way. All of a sudden that bad world out there comes crashing into your quiet, domestic every-day world with a jolt.
Good movie- go see it!