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Beasts of the Southern Wild

July 28, 2012

Where did this movie come from? Where did the director find Quvenzhane Wallis? Do people really use truck beds for boats?

Beasts of the Southern Wild is the story of a young girl named Hushpuppy who lives with her father in an area on the outskirts of Louisiana called The Bathtub. The Bathtub is a self-contained world full of poverty, thriftiness and community. the citizens kill their livers with booze, live day-to-day and love seafood. Life goes on normally until a massive storm hits that changes the way of life in the lower coastal area. From there the movie dives deeper into the bathtub until the real world comes looking for them. All of this is seen through Hushpuppie’s eyes.  Hushpuppy is played by six-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis  who is incredibly natural and intelligent. Wallis is a precocious little dynamo who has a vivid imagination for living in such a small world.

Her father does not help her much in the way of development. His hard-drinking keeps him away for days and he constantly tells stories of Hushpuppies mom who left them years ago. His accounts of a woman so hot she makes water boil add to the mystically real life that these people live. You can tell he loves his daughter but can only teach her the bare necessities of survival.

This film is proof that budgets are not needed to achieve a creative vision. Benh Zeitlin does more with his directorial debut than some directors achieve. He creates a pure vision that is uniquely his own. The film reminds me of the David Gordon Green film George Washington. They create bigger than life visions for very small places. Both men used largely untrained actors and that leads to the naturalness that these films depend on.

I was never emotionally taken by this film but I appreciated the visuals and wildness of Beasts of the Southern Wild. The director has created a memorable vision of a world unknown to many and characters who are strong of will. This movie is like a very shaky dream. There is so much going on you can’t remember all of the visuals flying at you.

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