Written by: Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin
Directed by: Benh Zeitlin
Starring:Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly
Reviewed by: Scott
Shot in Louisiana in a world outside the levees called ”the bathtub” Beasts of the Southern Wild is part fairy-tale part everything. I had no idea what “the Bathtub” was until the opening of this film and I was on a guided tour of this unique, self-reliant, disconnected community through the eyes of a 6-year-old named Hushpuppy.
Hushpuppy is strong, because she has to be, she is self-reliant, because she has to be, she is resilient. The relationship between Hushpuppy and her father Wink is complicated and certainly would not be tolerated in the connected world. He is a drunk and in no way a good father, as represented by moments of physical and verbal abuse doled out to the 6-year-old Hushpuppy but underneath this is a father who is trying to make his daughter a survivor, forced to raise his daughter alone as the mother is no longer around. He teaches her to fish with her bare hands and at one moment he pumps her up so much she is yelling “I’m the man” in one of the most touching father daughter moments in the film.
Life is not easy for Hushpuppy, her father Wink or anyone that lives in ” the Bathtub”but they would not have it any other way. With a storm approaching the town readies itself for survival even after dire warnings to evacuate the area. They will not run from the community they call home, regardless of the threats from Mother Nature, the ice caps melting and the return of the aurochs, an ancient creature that would eat its own family to survive. As the Aurochs make their way from the polar ice caps to “the bathtub” the tension grows for an inevitable face to face with our main character.
First time Director Benh Zeitlin refused to use a tripod and had very little resources for this film but this does not detract from it too much. The classic “shaky cam” is apparent but adds a sense of realism to film, shot much like a documentary. I am not a fan of this tactic but I was surprisingly unaffected by this. Other special effects include the shots of the Aurochs which were surprisingly well done considering the budget. Overall the presentation and cinematography are on par with many indie films, you could see that it was shot on a low-budget but the content and acting overshadowed the deficiencies.
The two main characters, Hushpuppy and Wink played by Quvenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry respectively are in this film without any prior acting which gave them a raw sincerity. You as a viewer forget that they are actors and feel as though you are watching their reality unfold before you and that is a testament to the work they did on this film. The acting is by far the best part of this film and carries it through at its’ weakest moments.
Beasts is magical, plain and simple, it is like someone took a fairytale and put it in the Bayou. The film is laden with allegory that will be discussed for years to come and probably in some college film classes. It jumps from fiction to reality seamlessly while not knowing where one ends and one begins. I give Beasts of the Southern Wild two and half guys.