In part profound and hilarious, Beasts of the Southern Wild offers a dystopic view of a life where wealth and squalor are co-habitants, and each step taken is a world of wonders.
Seen through the eyes of six-year-old Hushpuppy, the Bathtub is a wondrously magical place. In tune with her local surroundings, Hushpuppy keeps an ear out for all sounds of life. From her disgruntled farm pets to a fallen leaf, which she proceeds to eat, Hushpuppy lives half-wild in a southern Delta community, located near the edge of the world, where no one needs a reason to party.
Hushpuppy lives with her father, Wink, a gruff, tough-loving sort of man. He’s a typical, single father doing his best to raise his little girl the only way he knows how – through pats on the head and loud encouragements. “I’m your daddy, and it’s my job to take care of you, OK?”
Somewhere through Hushpuppy’s daily adventures through classes and walking through life, her father comes down with a mysterious illness that leaves him coughing up blood and struggling to teach Hushpuppy as much as he can before he dies.
During this time, Mother Nature decides to deliver storm that floods the Bathtub. Temperatures increase, ice caps melt and splinter, and ancient prehistoric creatures (a mix between a body of a bull, tusks of an ox and snout of a pig) called aurochs come back to life.
The six-year-old provides insightful moments only living half wild can form
“Sometimes you can break something so bad, that it can’t get put back together. Strong animals know when your hearts are weak,” she notes at one point. In another scene, she goes on to say, “The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece … the whole universe will get busted.”
How a child as young as six can come up with those revelations is as startlingly as the imagery the film conveys.
Directed by Benh Zeitlin (directed the shorts Glory at Sea, about Hurricane Katrina, The Origins of Electricity), Beasts of the Southern Wild takes the viewer on a journey. Profound and exciting, humorous and depressing, the film reveals the many aspects of life from the highs to the lows.
Hushpuppy, played by Quvenzhane Wallis in her first film, is the quizzical child who never gives up. Wink, played by Dwight Henry, is equally passionate in his delivery. This is Henry’s first film as well. Beasts of the Southern Wild won multiple awards at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, as well as Festival de Cannes, and is definitely a must see.