The devastated landscape of the Louisiana bayou becomes a primordial world in the eyes of 6-year-old Hushpuppy (the fierce and magnetic Quvenzhané Wallis). Hushpuppy's father Wink (Dwight Henry), emotionally unstable and increasingly ill, fights to maintain their ramshackle home, along with the rest of the precarious community of the area known as the Bathtub--but a Katrina-esque storm leaves the Bathtub flooded, driving Wink to desperate lengths. Faced with the loss of everything she knows, Hushpuppy decides her only hope is to find her mother, but her only clue is a winking light in the distance. Beasts of the Southern Wild tells its story entirely from the 6-year-old girl's perspective; the actions and emotions of adults take on a mythic scope, as does the damaged environment in which she lives. The movie is dense and rich, often as obscure and murky as the overgrown bayou itself, sometimes off-putting and enticing at the same time. Wallis, her performance brimming with feral energy and a wounded soul, carries the movie with more star power than most adults could muster. The dialogue is thick with intriguing metaphors and the images resist being easily interpreted into a conventional plot, but the story gradually emerges, rising to a potent end. Viewers who take the time to sink into its mysteries will be rewarded. --Bret Fetzer
Beasts of the Southern Wild is one of the most critically-acclaimed films of the year.
In a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the world by a sprawling levee, six year-old Hushpuppy exists on the brink of orphanhood. Her mother long gone, and her father Wink a wildman on a perpetual spree, Hushpuppy is left to her own devices on an isolated compound filled with semi-feral animals. She perceives the natural world to be a fragile web of living, breathing, squirting things, in which the entire universe depends on everything fitting together just right. So when a hundred year storm raises the waters around her town, her Daddy is suddenly stricken with illness, and fierce pre-historic creatures awaken from their frozen graves to come charging across the planet, Hushpuppy sees the natural order of everything she holds dear collapsing around her.
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 an unstoppable catastrophe of epic proportions.