Beasts of the Southern Wild – Review (Courier #6)

28 Mar

Finally landing on UK shores after success in the USA as well as scooping up prestigious awards at the Cannes and Sundance film festivals, Beasts of the Southern Wild is already an art house hit and generating plenty of early Oscar-buzz. This is director Benh Zeitlin’s first feature film and his brave tactic of using non-professional actors pays off to create a unique debut.

The story itself is intriguing and follows Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis – just six years old) and her life in ‘The Bathtub’, an area of swampland surrounded by levees in southern USA. Her father Wink (Dwight Henry) looks after her to an extent, but he is ill and dying so he teaches young Hushpuppy to be fearless and how to survive. Living in the swamps is not all peace, love and fun though, with waters rising and the mythical and pre-historic Aurochs (giant warthogs) seeking out the swamp after being frozen in the melting ice caps. Tomboyish Hushpuppy’s whole universe seems to be unravelling, weighed down also by her missing mother.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a truly heart-warming and tender tale and fantastically led by the wonderful Hushpuppy and her father Wink, who are both magnificent and one can easily forget they are both new to the world of acting. The plot does seem rather loose though and perhaps a tad ramshackle, similar to the huts and homes in The Bathtub. However, the film is beautifully shot and the Aurochs brought to life spectacularly considering the film and budget.

VERDICT: A wonderful and beautiful tale told through the eyes of the central young protagonist. It cements itself as one of the finest American art house films for many years. Definitely one of the better films of 2012.


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