Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Beasts of the Southern Wild

"Beasts of the Southern Wild" is the darling of the festival season that carried the attention into the award season.  I am glad to see it receiving a second run in theaters to give a new audience a chance to see such a brilliant film.  Written and directed by Behn Zeitlin the film is based on the one-act play written by Lucy Alibar, "Juicy and Delicious".  Life in New Orleans is usually depicted as Mardi Gras partying on Bourbon Street and in recent years with the TV show "Treme" which is a neighborhood rich in diversity of African-American and creole culture.  However, a very real community of people that live in the berrier islands that are cut off from the rest of the world by the levee. 

As a storm approaches the southern Louisiana bayou area called the "Bathtub", Hushpuppy (Quvenzhan√© Wallis) and her father Wink (Dwight Henry), are set in their place in life and are understanding in their dependency on each other.  Hushpuppy is extremely independent for such a young age.  However, she l and accidentally sets her house on fire when she is making dinner for herself.  Wink has a medical condition that he is keeping from Hushpuppy.  As the storm approaches Hushpuppy and Wink start to barricade their home, where the father, in an effort to make his daughter feel better, scares off the storm by shooting at the clouds. The next day, the two tour the devastation and connect with other surviving residents. The Bathtub residents celebrate and make plans to rebuild their community, but everything begins to die because of the salt water brought in by the storm surge. Wink hatches a plan to drain the water away by destroying the levee.

The story of the Auruchs, breaking from the ice and arriving in the Bathtub to confront Hushpuppy seemed a bit confusing to me.  I didn't know what an Aurch was, but apparently they are an extinct cow-like animal whereas in the film they are pig-like creatures.  I may have missed the symbolism there, but couldn't help but be reminded of "Where the Wild Things Are" and wanting to scream "let the wild rumpus begin".  Inside all of us is hope, fear, and adventure.

I often find myself enjoying films that bring to the attention of the media an issue that is being ignored.  This film accomplishes that with great empathy and respect for the isolated people threatened by erosion, hurricanes and rising sea levels.  Everything about this film was beautiful, from the cinamtography to the acting performances delivered by amateurs.  Behn Zeitlin was brilliant and very deserving of a nomination for best director.  Additionally, for the young Quvenzhan√© Wallis to carry the film through the narration to the physical demands of acting she is very deserving of an best actres nomination. 

The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right, if one piece breaks the entire universe will be broken.  If you don't see this film, at least you need to know that once their was a Hushpuppy that lived with her daddy in the Bathtub.  The film is easily one of the best for the year and receives all 5 Quacks.




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