Let's find out what RAMA thought of BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD.
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD walks on a thin line between discomfort and tranquility. In a way, the film somewhat tests how far you can endure its imagery. This film will either make you feel guilty or it will make you count your blessings. But I think this is one of the most original works I’ve seen in recent years. One of this year’s best..
In a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world by a sprawling levee, a six-year-old girl exists on the brink of orphanhood. Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural world is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality. Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions…
We had Slumdog Millionaire, we had Precious, and now the big poverty-themed film is BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, set in a bayou community fictionally named Bathtub, where the residents are just trying to get by. This is the story of hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) and her dad, Wink (Dwight Henry).
From the start, you could tell that their relationship is based on tough love, Wink knows that they’re all about surviving each day and in order for his daughter to survive, she must be able to take care of herself. Some may watch this movie and file Wink’s parenting under negligence and abuse, but Wink would see it as doing whatever is necessary to survive in ridiculously very harsh environment.
Speaking of which, the environment, the look and vibe for this film is one of its strong points, the lengths that writer/director Benh Zeitlin and his crew went to, including casting unknown/first time actors, to make bathtub seem like the most unsanitary living condition possible is extremely impressive. But again, the film is trying to tell you that what we may consider slum, some consider home.
This film is filled with all sorts of cinematic set pieces and imagery and Hushpuppy’s narration that reads like old time southern poetry.
Young actress Quvenzhané Wallis gives an extraordinary performance, hers is equivalent to how great Tatum O’Neal was in Paper Moon or how great Anna Paquin was in The Piano. Wallis’ character, Hushpuppy is treated like a boy by her dad, so she has to be tough, she has to not let her emotion get the best of her, she has to be able to catch fish with her bare hand and open up a crab by beasting it. There’s nothing that Wallis wouldn’t do for her character and that makes her a force to be reckoned with.
There’s a part where Hushpuppy goes out to find her estranged mother, and I’m glad that part of the story exists because it adds to her journey, her feeling like something was missing and the worry of whether or not she could go on after her dad is gone, that part of the story where she goes out to look for her mom, helps her reach a point or a realization that she doesn’t need her mom to take care of her, because her dad has taught her enough and her community will keep her company and she can conquer her fears, she can conquer the beasts of the southern wild.
GRADE: 5 out of 5
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