Remember this film, because you’ll be hearing about it again at the end of the year.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” is an original, unflinching, dramatic tale of a young bayou girl, her tough-love father, and the ramshackle Louisiana village they call home.
Set in the no-man’s land on the wrong side of the Mississippi delta levees affectionately called “the Bathtub,” 6-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) lives in an elevated trailer alongside her daddy Wink’s (Dwight Henry) rusty shanty in unfathomable squalor that she considers a wonderland. Through her eyes, she sees a magical place filled with life and adventure, where every day is a celebration, and every experience a moment of discovery.
Accepting her perspective, the hardships slip into the background as Hushpuppy is taught to prepare for a life few of us could ever imagine. She’s one tough kid, made tougher each and every day by a father who at first seems cruel, but eventually we learn he is more concerned about how she will survive if and when he’s not there to protect her.
Even the makeshift schoolhouse teacher wastes no time with fancy words. This is a no-nonsense education about survival, and Hushpuppy learns her lessons well.
She also clings to the memory of her mother through an old basketball jersey — asking for reassurance, seeking occasional solace.
This all leads up to the “big storm” that will change their lives forever and could jeopardize their perceived piece of paradise.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” won the Cinematography Award and Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. You likely won’t see a more powerful film so beautifully visualized through a child’s innocent prism.