Beasts of the Southern Wild
My feelings about the new movie “Beasts of the Southern Wild” are mixed. I know that there are many who like and recommend this movie, but I found it to be convoluted.
While I appreciate the fact that the story of “Beasts” was not a routine, formulaic one, of which we see too much during any given summer, I just needed for the film to have a clearer narrative. This should not have been too hard to accomplish, as the movie has a very winning narrator in Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis), a six-year-old girl who lives a ramshackle, rural, poverty stricken existence with her father Wink (Dwight Henry) in an area called the Bathtub, in a post Katrina Louisiana, off shore form New Orleans, separated from the world by levees.
The name, “Bathtub,” seems come from the fact that the “civilized” world, represented by smoke stacks and factories, has damned up water that used to flow freely, in effect fencing in the community in which Hushpuppy and Wink live. Father and daughter live in shacks, as do the other members of their community. Hushpuppy and Wink live off the land or, more accurately, the water, through fishing. They have a motor boat which seems to have been slapped together from truck parts.
“Beasts” is well acted, by a cast of non-professionals, especially Wallis, who is truly a find. Hushpuppy is wise beyond her years. She espouses a sociological, functionalist perspective. “The whole universe depends on everything fitting just right,” she tells us. Of her Bathtub neighbors she observes that, “Nobody cares about these people but themselves.”
The film also contains the titular, well rendered in CGI (computer graphics imaging), beasts which appear to be giant pigs. They seem to represent some sort of coming doom but I just did not completely understand their place in the story.
What I did manage to glean form the story is that it is one of survival, change, global warming, the definition of civilization, modern medicine and, I am sure, many other issues. One of the film’s problems is that it does not pick one issue and develop it. Perhaps this is because the story is told from the point of view of a six-year-old, albeit a very smart six-year-old. A more expositional voice over and maybe even a few title cards to clarify the story would have worked better for me.
“Beasts” is playing locally at Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema, 143 East Houston Street.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” director Benh Zeitlin, 2012,
Fox Searchlight, 91minutes, PG-13
Posted on July 20, 2012, in New and tagged Bathtub, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin, Dwight Henry, Hushpuppy, Katrina, Landmark's Sunshine Cinema, New Orleans, Quvenzhane Wallis, Wink. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.