I hate it when a film receives a lot of hype. I know it shouldn’t have this effect, but when somebody tells me to watch a film because ‘it’s the best thing they’ve seen in years’, I become instantly wary. With a statement like that, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ is one such film. Released in 2012, with 4 Oscar nominations and an unusually enticing title, it certainly had a reputation to live up to. And live up to it, it most certainly did. It may not be ‘the best thing I’ve seen in years’, but it’s definitely one of the most truly original, stunning films I’ve ever seen.
‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ is an eccentric and wildly magical tale of life seen through the eyes of a six-year-old girl, Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis), living on the margins of America. Adapted from a one-act play by Lucy Alibar, the story takes place in a remote region of Louisiana where Hushpuppy lives in a ramshackle trailer with, or rather next to her unpredictable father, Wink . This is a community where children feed, wash and teach themselves, but with the imminent destruction of her community (rising waters will flood the bayou) and orphanhood looming (her dad is ill, her mum dead) Hushpuppy finds herself in a position of terrifying independence. Suppressed emotions (crying is absolutely forbidden in ‘the Bathtub’) manifest themselves in extraordinary imaginings of melting ice caps, avalanches and ferocious pre-historic beasts as Hushpuppy’s world looses stability and she learns to survive life’s struggles.
Beautifully poetic and colourful, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ is fun, fantastical and as gritty as a hard-hitting documentary. The acting is phenomenal – Wallis is well deserving of her oscar nomination for best actress – and the cinematography pretty top-notch too (the film is shot on grainy 16mm – nice!). If you have time to watch one film this week make it this – if it disappoints, I’ll eat my hat.
Hit play to watch the trailer. I’m excited for you.