As people, we go to great lengths to define normalcy in our lives and family dynamics. We also go to great lengths to judge others who do fit in the neat little package we have created. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is movie of family, community, love, and child rearing that few among us would dare approve. But just because we don’t approve, does not mean it does not work.
The father, Wink, played by Dwight Henry, is rearing his six-year-old daughter, Hushpuppy, played by Quvenzhane Wallis, in the most remote part of the Louisiana bayou, they fondly call the Bathtub. Hushpuppy’s upbringing is filled with hardships that include no electricity, television, or computers. She has few comforts and fewer toys. She attends an unconventional school, however, with a small group of other children in the Bathtub.
This upbringing does not prepare her for the modern world but it does give her a broad understanding of how the world works including the role of science in our everyday existence. She understands the circle of life and death and how each organism works in collaboration to keep our earth going. Perhaps life and death is best described by Hushpuppy, “Everybody loses the thing that made them. It's even how it's supposed to be in nature. The brave men stay and watch it happen, they don't run.”
The actors were not well-known celebrities, they were cast from ordinary people. Quvenzhane Wallis is five-years-old and acts brilliantly, mesmerizing the audience with her displays of courage and love. The cast connects on set, drawing the viewers in to their struggles, their camaraderie, and their strength as individuals and as a community.
Sundance Film Festival has written a movie worth watching with open eyes and nonjudgmental hearts. You will gain insight into others and your own humanity.