"Beasts of the Southern Wild" -- movie review
Release date: June 27, 2012
Directed by: Benh Zeitlin
Written by: Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin
Starring: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry and Levy Easterly
"Once there was a Hushpuppy, and she lived with her daddy in The Bathtub."
This is our introduction to Quvenzhané Wallis, who plays the 5-year-old Hushpuppy, a resident of the Bathtub in the Louisiana bayou. A bathtub is a community of the bayou that has been cut off by a levee. Little Hushpuppy lives with her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), a man struggling with his health as much as his anger issues. Together they struggle but they survive in their poor, ramshackle village. This is their life and they wouldn't have it any other way.
The film intercuts a lesson about mythical beasts called Aurochs, which look like dino-sized razorbacks. These beasts are a representation of nature and while the bathtub may be a hot, humid, harsh swamp land, it is directly affected by global warming in the arctic. Ice shelfs are collapsing, releasing the aurochs, but in reality it means a hell of a storm is about to hit the bathtub. Residents are leaving in droves but Wink and Hushpuppy ain't goin' nowhere. When the storm does hit, it completely obliterates the community, leaving only those dedicated to their homeland.
Hushpuppy and Wink band together with neighbors and other survivors determined to rebuild but the land is dying quickly but Wink's healthy is failing just as fast. Hushpuppy's journey is only beginning as she sets out to find her mother, who has been gone since she was a baby. The movie detours into almost a supernatural feel as it winds down but the only magic in the film is the inspirational message provided by the survivors of the bathtub.
Quvenzhané Wallis is the breakout star of this movie. The relationship between Hushpuppy and Wink carries much of the film. We see his reluctance to be a single father but also an overwhelming need to protect his daughter and his home. Henry's performance is just as powerful and together they are very endearing. A lot will be debated on how much talent went into the touching performance of young Quvenzhané. She's just so cute and delivers every line with innocence yet experience. Like most child actors, some will credit director Benh Zeitlin for being able to direct her performance but she's sure to get some acclaim for her turn as little Hushpuppy.
"Beasts of the Southern Wild is a beautiful, inspirational and an powerful journey about people who want nothing more than to be left alone so they can live their lives. It's a rare glimpse into a world that exists right in front of our eyes, yet we rarely get to see it. It's also a reminder that there is still a strength of character left in this country even if it is in the Bathtub.
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