Posted by: ckckred | August 6, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild: A Visual Splendor

A spectacular film that’s one of the best of the year so far

Beasts of the Southern Wild has taken the film world on storm.  It has been a hit with audiences and critics alike and has won awards ranging from the Cannes Film Festival to Sundance.  But what’s really surprising is that Beasts has come out of nowhere.  This is director Benh Zeitlin’s first film, and there are no major actors in it.  In a summer ruled by big budget films, Beasts of Southern Wild is an outside man.

But if you can see only one for film for the rest of the season, I say you should watch Beasts.  It’s a stunning film that’s a visual achievement in cinema.  It will make you feel the characters’ emotions, something uncommon in most movies today.

Beastsis about a six year old girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) who lives in a desolute island called the Bathtub, which is just outside of a post-Katrina New Orleans.  Hushpuppy’s only parent is her father Wink (Dwight Henry), an angry alcoholic who doesn’t really know how to take care of her daughter.  Yet we can tell that Wink does care about Hushpuppy and realize that he thinks he’s helping her.

But a storm is coming, and the Bathtub is soon overflowed with water.  Hushpuppy and Wink try to survive the flood while Hushpuppy wants to learn more about her absent mother.

The characters in Beasts all live in poverty, but there’s something beautiful about the sight.  In one scene Wink looks at the city of New Orleans and calls it ugly, stating that the city is all factories and pollutants.  Though the Bathtub is a very dirty place, there’s an aurora there and you can tell that the inhabitants love it.

The strongest element film comes from the performances.  Quvenzhané Wallis blew me away in her performance as Wink.  One problem I find with most child actors is that they fumble their lines, but Wallis’s performance felt real.  Dwight Henry is fantastic as Wink, as he plays an injured man who wants his daughter’s love.

I noticed that most of the film was done in handheld shots, something which I found distracting in The Hunger Games.  In Beasts of the Southern Wild, it is done much better, mostly because of quicker cuts and that it’s more understandable.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is an absolute gem.  It’s still currently playing in limited release, but I suggest you try to find a showing of it.  This is a must-see film for any moviegoer.

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Responses

  1. I was an absolute mess by the end of this. Not at all what I expected, but in fact it became much more than I hoped.

    Totally agree about the shakycam being more organic here, I didn’t have a problem with it save for a few spots (the parade in the beginning in particular).

    • I was crying at the end too. I knew I was going to love Beasts, but I didn’t think I’d love it as much as I did.

      The shakeycam was understandable, since I’m guessing the film didn’t have a big budget, and wasn’t very bad (I found the parade and scenes in the forrest not too well shot), but that doesn’t prevent Beasts from being one of the best of the year. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Great review, I really need to see this after reading your post.

    • Thanks! I think it’s still in limited release, but it’s a must see. I traveled in the middle of an enormous storm just too see it, and it was well worth the price.

      • It certainly looks like a good watch.

  3. Just wanted to let you know I’ve just posted a new post asking about what people’s favourite debut performances are You should check it out.

  4. […] The Cabin in the Woods, The Dark Knight Rises, Moonrise Kingdom, Prometheus Charles Khosla: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Dark Knight Rises, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom Fernando Rafael Quintero Castañeda: The […]


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