This film has Criterion Collection written all over it. It has everything I wanted it to have: stunning imagery, complex, well-developed characters, a blend of folktale and modern-day storytelling, and a truly masterful incorporation of the real and the imaginary. A brilliant, inventive, and beautiful coming-of-age journey, Beasts of the Southern Wild is by far my favorite film to-date from Sundance 2012.

The Players

  • Director: Benh Zeitlin 
  • Screenwriter: Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin
  • Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry

Synopsis:

The Bathtub is a small and impoverished Louisiana Delta community on the verge of being destroyed by sea-level rise after being cut off from the mainland by a levee. Hushpuppy, a six-year-old girl with an artful imagination spends her days playing with their animals and imagining what it would be like if her mother, who left some time before the movie takes place, were with her.

When her father and sole care provider falls ill, he gruffly, and seemingly cruelly, races to teach her to survive on her own; fishing, boating, weathering gulf hurricanes, and learning the ways of the people of the Bathtub, whose very existence is in peril. Hushpuppy’s journey is scary, gritty, but at the same time uplifting.

The Good:

It is remarkable how deftly this film illustrates Hushpuppy’s experience of the world, and how easy it is to sink into it. At any moment, you feel as though you might drift off into Oz. But the real world turns out to be just as magical, confusing, delightful, and frightening as any fantasy world might be.  With such a rich cast of characters and some truly amazing performances, it’s really hard to explain how enjoyable this was to watch.

Overall:

I have nothing negative to say about this film. I loved it. I loved the story, the characters, the world, the cinematography, everything! If you can see this in theaters, do it.

Rating: 9/10