Title: Beasts of the Southern Wild
Release Date: une 27, 2012
Director: Benh Zeitlin
Production Company: Cinereach | Court 13 | Journeyman Pictures
I went into this movie with little knowledge about what it’s about and felt as if I was plunged into a post-apocalyptic science fiction story that begins with the survivors having a big celebration. Eventually, I cottoned on that this story is set in our present day, a reminder that apocalyptic conditions already exist in many places on our earth. In this case, it is a poor fishing community on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast called The Bathtub that is on the wrong side of the levees (and seemingly outside of governmental control) and thus susceptible to storms and hurricanes. The movie is clearly a parable for the climate crisis, but it is also so much more.
The movie feels like a fantasy, or magical realism, because its point-of-view character is the 6-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis). Wallis’ stunning performance captures a child both fully competent in navigating the world she’s grown up in but also still a child, who needs security. She doesn’t find much of that in her volatile father Wink (Dwight Henry) who is dying, and her mother has gone missing some time before.
This movie defies description so I’m not going to summarize it any further. Much like Jaccques Tati’s Playtime, this is a movie unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and probably cannot be duplicated. It’s a movie with a lot of emotion and imagination, and is a credit to Wallis, Henry, and the rest of the cast. The direction and the cinematography are inspired, and credit must also be given to the set designers that created believable living spaces filled with floating debris.