Beasts of the Southern Wild

July 22, 2012 1 Comment

This weekend a harmless trip to the safety of the multiplex can be deadly.  Reflecting about the details of a film under such circumstances seems trivial at best.  Still, a film like “Beasts of the Southern Wild” provides an unflinching look into the eye of  overwhelming tragedy, fear and abandonment and ultimate perseverance (if not triumph) that offers us a shred of hope.  Hushpuppy is our six year old protagonist, raised in the squalor and freedom of “the Bathtub,” an “area that modernity has forgotten,” now threatened by the storms of a Katrina-like calamity.  This unique film, directed by Benh Zeitlin, unwinds the story of  Hushpuppy as she negotiates a reality far beyond her ability.  Quenezhane Walker (Hushpuppy)  has no previous experience as an actor and infuses her performance with a reality that can only come from performers young enough to blur the story of the film from their own.  Hushpuppy’s father Wink strives to provide his tiny daughter with the skills to survive in a brutal world, as he is himself dying.  Zeitlin’s first time directing is bold and  unapologetically caring.  Is the film a metaphor?  A fantasy? A harsh indictment of a system that belittles cultures it does not comprehend?  Is this a film of triumph of the human spirit against all odds or a sad premonition of the whallop delivered by childhood trauma too early to digest?

This is a must see movie.      Jolyn Wagner

Rating the film:  9/10 (9 couches)–solidly inventive and at times sublime!

Must See Movie of the Week
One Comment to “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  1. Marc Rosen says:

    Less a film and more like a poem about loss and resilience, I thought it was a touching, faintly humorous but deeply serious story. All the Hollywood tropes were tossed out – Hushpuppy isn’t adopted, she doesn’t get thrown in the shower to emerge sparkling clean nor is there an ending that ties all loose ends. The filming itself is gauzy and surreal at times, sometimes claustrophobic and almost olfactory in the close quarters and raw interiors. It seems a cross between a Maurice Sendek story, the Lost Boys of Peter Pan, both woven into a story told my Terrence Malick (“Tree of Life”), only mercifully half the length. Hushpuppy’s charm was not overly sentimental but guileless and utterly real. Her father (like Hushpuppy, an amateur actor, a baker by trade) was gripped with madness in anticipation of his imminent death. Though harsh in his treatment of his daughter, his rage belied his terror at leaving her. He wanted to harden her to what life would be like as an orphan. I agree – a must see!

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