BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
FOUR STARS A unique, uncategoriseable drama of distinction.
DRAMA USA English #SOUTHERNWILD
Starring Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry
You may never see a brighter moment of cinematic poetry than Benh Zeitlin's epic Beasts Of The Southern Wild. Almost impossible to categorise, it's a work of distinction that carries a unique voice, one virtually unheard in the history of movies. That alone makes this a film with a warning. With no obvious reference points, Beasts is not a creation that can be framed by conventional artistic expression or narrative accessibility. There's nothing quite like it. But give in to Zeitlin's near magical world and you'll bath in a rare and wonderful pleasure.
Hushpuppy (the formidable Quvenzhané Wallis) is a young girl living in a swampy wilderness deep in the US south. The home she shares with her belligerent father Wink (Dwight Henry) is more junkyard than house, in an area virtually cut off from civilisation. His duty of care extends as far as feeding his daughter, education being a matter of osmosis. When a hurricane threatens the area, Wink refuses to budge. The locality of Bathtub is theirs, and they're not moving for anyone.
Comparisons with Katrina stop around here for Beasts Of The Southern Wild is not a matter of story or social commentary, it's a journey of raw emotion from the perspective of a wild, eight year old girl suddenly required to grow up. As with Wink's savage attempts to prepare Hushpuppy for a future without him, to understand anything of Zeitlin's film is to let it coarse through you as a ferocious sensory experience. Only then does it begin to make any impression, or any sense.
It is, in essence, a coming of age tale, one populated with fierce people and fiercer emotion where Hushpuppy argues that “if even the smallest piece is bust, the entire universe will get busted.” And who are we to argue? All of which makes Beasts Of The Southern Wild a film like no other you've ever seen. Immerse yourself in this visceral, exciting and often threatening experience, and you'll be rewarded with a generosity of spirit quite unknown in contemporary cinema. It is a touchstone, an altogether remarkable film.