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3.7 out of 5 stars128
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 2 November 2012
I agree with all the negative comments by the other reviewers, but I must add that there are so many excellent aspects that you must see the film for yourself. The episode of the aurochs DOES seem a bit much, but it's still a very powerful scene. The brothel scene IS a bit odd, but also very moving ( an instant where you think of a mother and her child). There are aspects of the plot which don't convince me at all - as if they are there to serve a pre-existent agenda which was not concerned with being convincing. Perhaps it's best to see the film, not as a failed attempt at realism, but as magic realism. Remember: the central character is a very young child whose life has been unsettled (understatement of the year) and whose view of the workd is partly coloured by what she has learned, or thinks she has learned. As you can tell, I'm trying to persuade myself as well as you. Visually, alone, the film's essential viewing. I remember the first time I saw Paradjanov's "Colour of Pomegranates" - coming out of the cinema utterly baffled, but also utterly overwhelmed. As time passes, that film makes more sense (in its own way)and is, I think, a masterpiece. Maybe I'll end up feeling the same about "Beasts". You must watch it, simply because there is nothing like it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 January 2013
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Beasts of the Southern Wild is a unique parable on growing up. 6 year-old Hushpuppy virtually looks after herself amidst the crushing poverty of a Louisiana Bayou called Bathtub. Her dysfunctional father, Wink, is a drinker with serious health problems & her mother has "gone" - seemingly dead but given that it's from the perspective of a 6 year-old, it's somewhat ambiguous. When a major storm floods the appropriately named Bathtub, she is forced to fight for survival & seek her place in the world. In her imagination, the danger takes the form of Aurochs - ancient creatures who the closest thing she has to a teacher tells her died out because they were stupid. Will Hushpuppy & her community fare any better?

I was concerned this would be one of those American films which substitute genuine emotion for lashings of sentimentality but thankfully this was not the case. A lot of its impact is due to the incredible performance of 6 year-old Quvenzhané Wallis. She has an astonishing ability to simultaneously convey strength & vulnerability which is beyond most adult actors. The relationship between her & Dwight Henry, who plays her father, is amazing to watch. Another first-time actor, Henry had no ambitions in that area until encouraged by casting agents whose offices were opposite the bakery he worked in. But he was perfect for the role because, in his words, he "was in Hurricane Katrina in neck-high water" & thus "brought a passion to the part that an outside actor who had never seen a storm or been in a flood or faced losing everything couldn't have". So despite the OTT nature of the approaching semi-mythical creatures, this film feels incredibly real. But then I've always felt that you can set films in the most outlandish environments as long as you can hook the audience in with believable characters.

Beasts Of The Southern Wild is a unique work. It isn't always clear where it's going or what it's trying to say but the compelling performances make it utterly worthwhile.
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Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was very pleased to receive an advance review copy from Vine of this surprisingly good little film. At first I thought I was not going to like it, but it grew on me and I found myself enjoying the sideways look at the fragile and fantastic world of a child and how she manages to cope with traumatic events. The Amazon blurb gives us quite a good feel for the film, and I think most of the critical acclaim seems to be well deserved.

The acting and photography were both brilliant, especially when one considers how few of them involved were professionals, and that the 'Bathtub' is a real place, and that these were real people in a very unconventional (to most of us) environment, and that it was made on a shoestring.

Not everyone will like this film, and quite a few will be bored stiff and give up too soon, but many others will love it for the amazing detail and insight into human character and relationships and their ability to rise above their problems. I think it will appeal more to women than men. Perhaps being a fond father of daughters helps one to appreciate it more.

The 'making of' was also interesting, and, having understood this, it adds another dimension to the very real qualities behind the film itself.
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"Beasts of the Southern Wild" opens with a landscape of hardscrabble poverty that could be many places (I was totally unfamiliar with the plot, and thought perhaps it was set in Africa). Gradually the story is developed, centered on the lives of six-year old Hushpuppy, the introspective and often isolated daughter of Wink. They live on what most would consider the wrong side of a Louisiana levee, in an isolated bayou community known as "The Bathtub".

Wink and Hushpuppy are both struggling with abandonment (Hushpuppy's mom left the family under circumstances never fully explained, but almost certainly tied to Wink's drinking), and Wink also suffers from other maladies. His drinking (and that of many of The Bathtub's adults that are his peers) is evident from the beginning. It's also clear that he has other medical issues. Eventually, after a hurricane has come and gone and profoundly disrupted The Bathtub's way of life, Wink has to tell Hushpuppy about the leukemia that is killing him.

Throughout this movie, Hushpuppy is influenced by other adults, some that come and go and some that stay: the Bathtub's regulars, the women who populate a floating catfish restaurant and nightclub, the folk healer who teaches her and other kids some of the hard truths about the world ("we are all meat..."). She is also aligned with the natural world around her, the rhythms of rural livestock, and their eventual role in placing food on the table.

The beasts of the title are aurochs, symbolic of fear and loss that appear in Hushpuppy's visions of the world. And make no mistake about it: it is a world that is wet and dirty, with adults streaked with violence, devoid of true warmth or connection ("I can count the number of times I've been picked up" she says at one point).

The subject matter is serious and intense; tread carefully before exposing younger viewers to this movie.

But by all means, watch it. It's far afield from the usual offerings on the big screen, and will take you to surprising places at the end.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 28 January 2013
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the much hyped film that is genre breaking etc. It stars Quvenzhane Wallis as the six year old Hushpuppy. Her mother has gone away and her father is ill with an unspecified disease. They live on the `wet' side of the Levy in New Orleans, post Hurricane Katrina. The other side is the `dry' side and it is a world apart with its `civilisation'. Hushpuppy's community live in shacks on stilts and have `boats' made from the flotsam and jetsam that is other peoples junk, and eat food as it is caught in the wild all around them.

The kids are taught how the universe hangs together and that everything in it has a place and a need to fit in. This is a strand running through the film. We also have references to the extinct Oryx, which were boar like creatures that were quite fearsome and they make a CGI appearance or two as well. There is an eco message here as we get repeated references to global warming and the fact that this area known as the `Bathtub' will be lost forever as the waters rise. It is really a story of survival and co-existence with the other beasts as when all is said and done they are reminded that we humans, just like the animals, are all `meat'.

The locals do seem to party a lot and alcohol is as much a part of their diet as the fish that seem to be so plentiful. The coming storm can be seen as a result of the melting ice caps or as a metaphor for the progressive change that mans `progression' inevitably brings.

This is an unusual film, with its mix of fantasy and a story that is told ostensibly through the eyes of a young girl, who acts brilliantly, by the way. There is not that much in the way of plot though, but there is character development in the volatile relationship that Hushpuppy has with her father. The cinematography is stunning in places and the whole thing has a confidence that is reflected in the rather good musical score. This is at times painful. Worthy, preachy, uplifting, moving and challenging, which is not bad for a film with such a simple premise.

I actually really enjoyed it but felt it has been over hyped which can be as damaging as it can be helpful, but that is in no way down to the film makers who have made something original, very good, thought provoking and eminently watchable.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 January 2013
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A good transfer on DVD with Dolby 5.1 surround as an option - the picture quality is very good and captures the feeling of being right there with "hush puppy" in the strange world she inhabits. We are in the close, low-down reality of a child and also in her imagination - inspired by the informal lessons about climate change and melting polar icecaps, which are the only schooling she gets.

We really identify with her and the sense of being born into the world of the "bathtub" - outside the rest of society, divided by the levees; cut adrift from society and all normal amenities. Left out of of education and welfare benefits, it's one long "holiday", drinking cheap alcohol and eating what you can catch - whether it's a chicken or a catfish, or the plentiful crustaceans found in this watery world. Nobody works or earns money and it's a communal society, where children are sometimes left in a central creche - if they're lucky!

Hush puppy, is more often left to her own devices and only has her imagination for company, She imagines huge beasts, or a ghostly image of her lost mother, telling her what to do and how to live. Her father tries to keep her alive, but he is lost in his own battles against alcoholism and ill-health.

In many ways, this can be seen as a depressing picture - but there is also a sense of indomitable human spirit against overwhelming odds. The small community refuse to leave their homes in the face of the massive storm approaching and they refuse all offers of help. Hush puppy survives and seems to have a strong sense of living with nature - living with all the beasts around her - and has a natural affinity with it, that most of us have lost. The question seems to be - who are the "beasts" of the title. Is it the community of untamed human beings, the animals they live so closely with - or maybe the imagined terrors of hush puppy's mind, brought forth by the climate change attributed to the wider human society that they distance themselves from.

This is a thoughtful film about a community that is the opposite - it's not always comfortable viewing and while there are some beautiful shots and set-pieces, mostly the outlook is grim and grimy. Dirt and decay are in the foreground and we are always aware of the deprivation in which hush puppy grows up. But her spirit and optimism carries you through and makes the film worth seeing.
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Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Life isn't great for "Hushpuppy" (a remarkable debut from Quvenzhane Wallis).
Her Mother is dead, her Father's a drunk and home, such as it is, is a dump.
The fragile community of "Bathtub" might disappear under flood waters at any
moment, living, as they do, beyond the protection offered by the distant
levee. It's a hand to mouth existence with little hope of a brighter tomorrow.

No wonder then that the doughty Hushpuppy finds solace in her imagination.
The polar ice is melting releasing giant prehistoric beasts ("Aurochs") from
their timeless slumbers. Within the film's slender narrative their significance
is unclear but this should not trouble us. A sprinkle of magic in such bleak
surroundings is a welcome relief. A tiny, big, bad world seen through a child's
eyes. More than this? Perhaps director Behn Zeitlin wanted to capture this strange
place and its elusive sense of character before it dissolves beneath the waves.

A mysterious and curiously touching experience.
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on 28 August 2014
Others have already gone over the story and I have to say from all I'd heard I was really looking forward to this.
Perhaps I was victim to too much hype but I felt the film didn't live up to my expectations.
Now that's not to knock the film, indeed I did like it.
The story is quite compelling and well acted, however I found it hard to really care deeply enough about any of the characters to get that emotional attachment I was hoping for.

The Blu-Ray is excellent with a good quality of picture, really picking up the shadows and brightness very well.
And the sound! Exceptional use with very crisp and clear track and amazing use of the sub in all the right places to really give that cinema feeling.

All in all a good film (but not worthy of all the hype in my opinion) on an excellent quality Blu-Ray.
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VINE VOICEon 13 May 2013
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The acting is compelling with a mix of 'fantasy' and reality that can become slightly disconnected and difficult to follow but also adds depth and colour to the storyline. Hushpuppy, played brilliantly by Quvenzhan Wallis, lives in 'Bathtub' in the Bayou and when the floods come she has to face a completely changing landscape with courage and determination. This is definitely an 'Arthouse' rather than mainstream movie and has an emphasis on sweeping vistas, gritty realism and sometimes 'hard to reconcile' dramatic sequences but the lead characters drew me in and I applaud the vision and direction that produced this film. It isn't perfect and there are certainly aspects where I questioned choices made but I was moved by it and want to watch again as I think it is a film where repeat watching will add to enjoyment.
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on 19 March 2014
Interesting story and good acting spoiled by jerky camera work. I can normally watch movies more than once, but not this one.
I am not a lover of the modern trend of hand held camera work as I normally view movies fairly close on a large projection screen.
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