Know this, you have never seen anything like Beasts of the Southern Wild. I say this with confidence, as this film can quite possibly transport you to a world you never knew existed. It’s a story so fascinating and so surreal, it can only be described as pure magic put to film.
Quvenzhane Wallis is Hushpuppy, a little girl who lives in a Delta region forgotten by the rest of the world. She’s faced with the deterioration of her father’s health and imminent death, as well as the threat of prehistoric creatures called aurochs. They roamed the earth until the ice age froze them. Now, with the ice caps melting and Hushpuppy’s Delta community quickly inundating, she searches for her mother.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is not an easy film to digest. Describing what the film is about will surely alienate people and immediately turn some away. But even the most jaded of unimaginative movie goers need to appreciate both Quvenzhane and Dwight Henry as Hushpuppy’s father. Their performances here are unflinching, so incredibly raw and beautiful that as absurd a premise as the film is, it’s like watching a documentary on imagination.
“The whole universe, it depends on everything fittin’ together just right.” Hushpuppy says in voiceover. It’s these mystical quotes that fit so very nicely with the The Bathtub, the Louisiana bayou where Hushpuppy lives with her father and a bunch of interesting similar neighbors. Everyone here happily gets by truly living on the fringes of society. They consider it the best place on earth. Hushpuppy looks beyond at the city that separates her from the rest of the world and considers it ugly. This isn’t a story about finding the golden road.
Hushpuppy imagines a world where ice caps are melting, spliced with scenes of aurochs rampaging through the land. For all its magical elements, it would be easy to classify Beasts as a coming of age story, or even a fairytale. But Beasts of the Southern Wild really cannot be classified into anything. It just is what it is. A film that sees beauty in tragedy. A film that defies logic.
Regardless, Beasts of the Southern Wild, anchored by these two stars, is unlike anything you will see in a long time. Surely, it’s a much needed break from the usual summer blockbuster. It is a film that celebrates life by celebrating death, celebrates joy and wealth of the mind by despair and poverty of the body. It celebrates the power of imagination. It is a brutally strange movie. Hushpuppy explains that one of the things her father taught her was that, “You have to take care of the things smaller and sweeter than you.”
From this point on, this film will be the standard for how I will judge people’s taste in films. That’s not to say it is the best film I’ve ever seen, or anything of the sort. It is just so incredibly unique, that if you can’t grasp it, you can’t be trusted with a mind. This movie is astonishing, fierce and original. It’s all of these things in all different kinds of ways. This film is extraordinary.