Beasts of the Southern WildFeature Film |
A tiny folk epic centered on a child's extraordinary performance.
Benh Zeitlin's remarkable directorial debut, Beasts of the Southern Wild, is a unique work, transporting us to the alternate universe of a tough little six year-old girl's mind. In its depiction of children making their own world, it evokes (the old, good) David Gordon Green's similarly accomplished first feature, George Washington. If Zeitlin's movie isn't as visually arresting as Green's, he compensates by focusing his camera on his astonishing lead actor. Quvenzhané Wallis stars as Hushpuppy, who lives on a small, constantly imperiled island, called "The Bathtub" by locals, off the coast of Louisiana. Her single father, Wink (another first-time actor, Dwight Henry), is impoverished, like his neighbors, and very ill, and his notion of parenting is to prepare Hushpuppy to survive whatever tragedy might, and probably will, occur. Hushpuppy is a somber, thoughtful little kid. Wallis's alert, serious demeanor grounds the sometimes fanciful nature of her voiceover narration -- her bittersweet descriptions of the tiny world she lives in, and what she imagines lies beyond it. It's a lovely movie, but its beauty and power are ever so fragile. When it strays from Wallis's singular performance and Hushpuppy's strong point-of-view, it falters, but when the images and the excellent score converge to reinforce the girl's sense of wonder and her resilience, Beasts achieves a rare kind of cinematic magic.
|Beasts of the Southern Wild Trailer|