¨In a million years, when kids go to school, they gonna know: Once there was a Hushpuppy, and she lived with her daddy in The Bathtub.¨
Beasts of the Southern Wild is without a doubt one of the best films of 2012. It is unlike any other movie you have seen and it makes you actually feel like you are reading a poem instead of watching a film. It came as a huge surprise for me considering I didn’t know the director or the stars of this film. I heard of the success it was having after winning the Camera d`Or in the Cannes Film Festival and the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize in the Sundance Film Festival, but I really didn’t think I would be as surprised by this film as the critics claimed to be. This small film was truly a magical experience for me as it mixes some surrealism with a tender story about the relationship between a father and his young daughter and their struggle for survival. The characters in this story are facing an oncoming storm that is threatening their lives, but at the same time the father is going through a severe illness that is threatening his. The storm plays out as sort of a parable of what the young daughter is facing ahead of her as her father is her only means for survival and his death would mean hers as well. It`s hard to decipher if some scenes are actually really happening or if they are just in the daughter`s imagination, and this plays out beautifully in this magical/realistic film. This is Benh Zeitlin`s first feature film and he also co-wrote the screenplay with Lucy Alibar. The film is based on Alibar`s stage play ¨Juicy and Delicious.¨ Zeitlin has made an impressive film and he will definitely be someone to keep an eye on, especially if you enjoy seeing something unique and different. The screenplay works really well thanks to a great performance from the cast, especially from the two lead roles who play father and daughter.
The story takes place in a fictional Delta community in the southern Louisiana bayou known as ¨The Bathtub.¨ This forgotten community is cut from the rest of the world by a levee and they have been warned that at any moment the water level will rise so high that there will be no more land left in that region. In the Bathtub we meet a young six year old girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) who lives with her alcoholic father, Wink (Dwight Henry), and several other farm animals. Hushpuppy is a very imaginative young girl and she believes that this world she lives in is in balance with the entire universe. If one small piece breaks, everything else does as well. The upcoming storm is threatening her perception of the world, as well as her relationship with Wink who has disappeared for a few days. Surviving on her own for a couple of days, she hears her father coming back and from what the viewer can see he has escaped from a hospital or something. It doesn’t take much time for her to realize that her father is very sick. Wink is very hot tempered, but at the same time he cares for his daughter and tries to be tough to teach her how to survive on her own in this community. The ice caps are melting, the water levels are rising, her father is ill, and a mystical animal named aurochs all seem to be heading her way and putting in danger her life as well as the rest of the small and poor community of the Bathtub. Somehow she must fight along with her father to restore the balance in the universe and fix the broken pieces that have threatened this balance. Among the residents of the community we have the teacher Miss Bathsheba (Gina Montana), Walrus (Lowell Landes), Jean (Levy Easterly), and Joy (Jonshel Alexander) who all refuse to leave from their beloved land.
I can’t say for sure if in the future people will remember Hushpuppy, but they will remember the young Quvenzhané Wallis who portrays her because she just delivered one of the best female performances of the year. I am sure she will receive an Oscar nomination for her portrayal because she simply carries this magical movie on her own. Her on screen presence is just electrifying and hypnotic. Once you took one look at her, it was impossible to look anywhere else. She is brilliant and single handedly makes this movie so much better than it already is. Dwight Henry also gives a very strong performance as the father. Both Henry and Wallis had never acted before in their lives. This film seemed to have all the perfect ingredients to fail, but every piece fit together so well that everything was like Hushpuppy said ¨The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece... the whole universe will get busted.¨ Every piece of the universe that was Beasts of the Southern Wild fit so well together that it made for a perfect film and one of the best of the year. I highly recommend this magical and emotional film to everyone because it will take you by storm. It is unlike anything you have seen before, and I mean it in a good way. Wallis is really captivating and her performance left me with goose bumps all over my skin.