38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
"I see that I'm a little piece in a big, big universe. And that makes things right."
, 23 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Beasts of the Southern Wild [DVD]  (DVD)
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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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