I finally saw it after hearing so much about Jacki Weaver's performance. And she's great, though I feel she lays it on a little thick in her "bad momma" scenes. Still, I understand the buzz around her, and for the most part, she plays the role of Janine Cody pretty well, with only her eyes expressing the ruthlessness behind her hugs and terms of endearment. Guy Pearce turns in solid work as the cop wanting to bring in Janine's criminal sons, determined but tired as he closes in on the gang. Joel Edgerton and Sullivan Stapleton were my favorites of the brothers, both believable as the quiet, level-headed one and the manic one, respectively.
Newcomer James Frecheville plays the nephew, the protagonist, a guy with a girl who watches and sometimes takes part in the gang's activities; Ben Mendelsohn plays the quietest and craziest one of the bunch. The two appear to be having a blank expression contest, but for different purposes. Frecheville's is an observer, and his blank expression helps him remain unreadable. Mendelsohn's, meanwhile, is more in line with Donald Pleasance's description of Michael Myers: "This blank, pale, emotionless face and the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes." Overall, some fine performances.
|Not bad at all...|
I'd give it more of a B, though, because I just didn't connect emotionally. Maybe it was the time of day, maybe it was the abundance of slo-mo following each death (crime film, surely that's no surprise), maybe it was the slow burn of it all. But something kept me from completely latching onto the film, especially in the last fifteen minutes. The last section seemed like too much for too long, and I felt myself becoming a little irritated with Mendelsohn's calculated "I'm a psychotic!" performance. Not enough people give credit to the hamminess of underplaying, but it happens, and this is one of those. It bothered me.
Whatever the reason, I wish it wasn't so. I hear all this praise for the film, and it's certainly warranted...but I'm more "Oh, that was nice" about it, before moving on. I'd see it again, but I could probably get some laundry done during.