Beasts of the Southern Wild is a fantasy drama set in the Louisiana bayou. Five year old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) is a young resident of The Bathtub, a small community cut off from the rest of the world by a levee. She lives there with her father Wink (Dwight Henry) a man who is desperately trying to teach his daughter self sufficiency due to the difficult nature of their home and a hidden illness. With a storm approaching The Bathtub many of the residents decide to leave but Hushpuppy and Wink stay to ride it out.
Beasts is a film that I’d heard a lot about and it has garnered several high profile awards and nominations including Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Director at the Oscars. I personally think that only the Best Actress nominee is justified but think that Beasts of the Southern Wild is a compelling and interesting film that takes poetic licence with a realistic setting.
Quvenzhane Wallis is quite incredible and last month became the youngest person in history to pick up an Oscar nomination. Her natural performance is brilliant and full of little touches that make it seem as though she has studied acting for years. Somehow despite her age she seems to be able to read a scene and judge exactly what is needed from herself. It’s quite remarkable. The rest of the cast is made up of local people who often had little or no acting experience and includes Dwight Henry who just happened to see that the crew were looking for actors while he was working across the road from the production office. All of the acting is terrific and I love the very unique accents which I’ve never heard on film before.
The accents together with the dialogue make the speech sound like poetry when it is delivered from the actor’s mouths. The script is full of metaphors and directives for survival and remains grounded in reality despite the unusual surroundings. The plot is enjoyable and I was hooked although I sometimes wasn’t sure if I should be reading more into certain scenes. I didn’t totally understand the significance of the Aurochs for instance but I liked the environmentalist ideology. The score was great to listen to and is made up of bluegrass music played on everything from guitars to saws. As well as sounding great, the film also looks great. The setting is beautiful and the props give the film a post apocalyptic feel.
Overall I really enjoyed Beasts of the Southern Wild. I wouldn’t make it one of my favourite films from last year but the central performance is terrific, the plot is compelling and it is never dull.
- Quvenzhane Wallis lied about her age to get an audition. She and her mother claimed to be six when she was in fact only five.
- The Deep Horizons oil spill happened on the first day of shooting and the crew helped in the clean up effort.
- The film is based on a one act play called Juicy and Delicious.