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Award Nominee

Beasts Of The Southern Wild




Released: October 2012

Directed By: Benh Zeitlin

Starring: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry

Certificate: 12A

Reviewed By: William McAbee

One of my favorite things about watching independent films is that we get to see creativity and imagination not suppressed by the studio system. I’m not necessarily critiquing the studios at all just nothing that independent films have a certain freedom that creates some of the best films we have ever seen. I think of Blue Valentine, Little Miss Sunshine, Shame, Hunger, and many more as just a few examples of how much power a film can have when art is prioritized above money. This becomes much evident in Beasts Of The Southern Wild as another great example of independent film having all the power and story that studios spend hundreds of millions of dollars to create.

Beasts Of The Southern Wild follows Hushpuppy, a young girl in Louisiana, who lives with her father Wink in Bathtub, an island off the coast of New Orleans. Bathtub is wild and energetic community full of bright characters who live each life to the fullest with plenty of food to go around. Wink tries to help grow Hushpuppy into a strong person and be able to take care of herself when he passes away. Things seem good in Bathtub until a horrible storm passes through and floods the entire island. With their home destroyed and resources quickly depleting, Hushpuppy must learn to grow up and take care of her dying father all while confronting her fears and dealing with the absence of her mother.

Beasts Of The Southern Wild was one of the most talked about movies coming out of 2012 as it was a sleeper that surprised a lot of people. After seeing it I can see what all the talk was about as this film takes us on a magical journey with a strong central performance from the young Wallis. It is amazing to watch a girl of only 9 years of age be able to dominate the screen like Wallis does and one can only hope that this is the beginning of a strong career for her. We have seen children dominate movies before like in E.T. and even this year’s Looper but some unique stands out about Wallis in Beasts. She performs with such range and simpleness that amazes me, a girl at her age able to communicate so much with saying so little.

Still the film was a tad disappointing to me because of its 2nd act. The film starts out strong and ends powerfully, though not perfectly, while the middle just drags and had trouble holding my interest in. What was fun about being introduced to the world and its characters soon loses its power as the plot is stretched until the third act  Though it does not ruin the film as it only deepens the relationships between Wink and Hushpuppy. I also found the actual beasts, the ancient Aurochs, to be more distracting and bland than adding something to the story. I felt that they were unnecessary and a waste of time when something better would have added more to the story. Plus the shaky camera would become distracting and over the top at the most random moments which took me out of the film a few times but nothing that ruined it for me.

Fortunately for this movie when it hits that third act, we are able to see some of the best stuff this film has to offer. It pushes aside the world and lets the characters dominate the screen. Hushpuppy takes our breath away and while I didn’t like Wink at all up to this point, a simple shot of him in a wheelchair took my breath away. The film also takes a sociological turn by analyzing how disaster reliefs actually felt more like a prison than actual help. Plus when the film hits its emotional core I would be surprised to find someone who is impacted by the incredible power Wink and Hushpuppy bring to the screen together.

Still what remains to be the best and most beautiful part of this films is its grand creativity. The world it creates is unique and quite charming to watch, its characters lovable and realistic, and more importantly beautiful to take it. Along with some nice camera work and framing, the music is absolutely splendid and probably one of my all time favorite scores. It syncs perfectly with the film and quite a beautiful piece of music. Beasts may not be the best film of 2012 but it is still quite a fun piece of film. Entirely unique, beautiful music, and amazing characters all come together to make a solid piece of film that should stand as one of the best of the year.

Hello! I am William McAbee. I do my fair share of reviews from time to time and I tweet like there is no tomorrow! I work currently as a video editor and producer.

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