In the spirit of continuing the exploration of 2012’s Academy Award nominees, let’s turn our attention to ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild.’
A tiny southern Louisiana bayou known as ‘The Bathtub’ is preparing for a major storm. They are on the wrong side of the levee and significant rain will put their community under water. Many have left, but there are some holdouts.
Central to the story are a five year old girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) and her father Wink (Dwight Henry). Like their neighbors, they are poor, living in two tiny, separate, shacks in the woods.
Wink wants to stay but once the waters arrive, the duo realize they have to hit the road for higher ground if they are to survive. The fact that Wink suddenly becomes ill without any explanation doesn’t help.
As the water rises, Hushpuppy constantly thinks back to what she heard in school about global warming. Mighty beasts once roamed the earth before they were frozen in ice. With the melting ice, will these creatures take over Earth once more?
The supernatural elements weren’t really needed for this movie. They illustrate a child’s imagination, are nice to look at at make this film visually special but it doesn’t add much to the story. At its most basic, the human story of survival is the most compelling thing here. Well, that and the fact that Hushpuppy also wants to find the mother that she has never known.
As such, the visuals and atmosphere often trumps story progress. The movie is short and there isn’t that much which happens, which isn’t really the point of the film anyway. The filmmaker’s obvious thoughts on climate change are on display, but the circumstance that these characters face are a reality for many people, so it isn’t an obnoxious political statement.
For first-time actors, Wallis and Henry both do commendable jobs anchoring this thing. Without them, this whole this is for naught. Given Wallis’ age and the heaviness of the material, the best actress nomination was appropriate.
Special features include: a making of featurette, a trailer and a sneak peak.
‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ is memorable for the haunting images and Wallis’ standout performance. It certainly won’t be appropriate for every occasion and all audiences, but at the right time in front of the right people, you have a winner.
Add an extra half star to this rating.
PG-13 93 minutes 2012