The movie equivalent of a vice. You wouldn’t think anything new could be brought to the crime-drama genre, but Australian writer-director David Michod finds fresh levels of malevolence and tension in this claustrophobic variation. As the title suggests, this is a story of Darwinian ruthlessness, starting with the opening scene of a teen sitting on a couch watching television next to his mother, dead from a drug overdose. That sends the boy, J (James Frecheville), to live with his grandmother (Jacki Weaver), who presides over four feral sons involved in various degrees of lawlessness. Michod proves to be a master of framing – notice the insinuating entrance of Pope (Ben Mendelsohn), the oldest and most fearsome uncle – as well as a powerful conjurer of mood. There is little action here, including what may be the cinema’s slowest yet most effective car chase, but even without hold-ups and gunplay Michod creates an atmosphere of absolute stress. And more so than even The Godfather, Animal Kingdom – with its smothering grandmother and circling uncles – communicates the futility of a good-hearted kid trying to escape his criminal upbringing.