REVIEW: Beasts Of The Southern Wild

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600full-beasts-of-the-southern-wild-posterBeasts Of The Southern Wild is based on the one-act play named Juicy And Delicious by Lucy Alibar, who co-wrote the film’s screenplay. To put it simply, the story is told of a six year old girl and the relationship with her unhealthy, ill-tempered father in their poor family home and the problems that come before them. It is a magical tale and is told through forms of the real world that mixes with the prehistoric age. In that sense, the film creates an essence of beauty and represents themes of nature and imagination. On the other hand, the film has its share of raw emotion and tragedy within it. Beasts Of The Southern Wild may have had a few problems regarding what it actually wants to be but despite that, it is still a heart-breaking and thought-provoking film that will keep hold of you from start to finish.

Dramas mixed with fantasy or vice versa are usually represented in either an eccentric world, characters or specific props used within. In the case of Beasts Of The Southern Wild director Benh Zietlin, who is making his directorial debut, plays with it and at times, makes the film feel a little unrealistic. The whole sub-plot, not so much with global weather issues, but adding the appearance of the pre-historic creatures felt a little out of place and did not quite connect with the film’s emotional mood and neither does it create a vital effect on any of the characters. It has worked in films such as Big Fish and Where The Wild Things Are but in Beasts Of The Southern Wild, it seems like the added fantasy genre has been pushed in to make the child protagonist and the entire film a little cuter but the heart-breaking drama shifts that sub-plot aside and illustrates that is serves little purpose. However, judging from the leading character’s avid imagination, the fantasy side of the film was either underused or entirely irrelevant.

Beasts Of The Southern Wild is shot through the eyes of a six-year-old girl named Hushpuppy and this character has not only an avid imagination but is quite a bright spark for her age. We see this through not only on-screen performance but through regular narration throughout the film. In the role of Hushpuppy is 9 year old Quvenzhané Wallis who is making her acting debut, and what an outstanding start it is. In most films that you see, child actors portray supporting characters and the majority of them are the same popular young stars we see regularly. However, what we have with Wallis’ performance is not only the start of a shining, young star’s acting career but a breakthrough. She totally takes control of the film all by herself and takes the audience on her emotional adventure. Hushpuppy herself is a strong leader and Wallis carries this marvelously well. We see signs of mature intelligence, particularly around her father and when she’s attending to herself independently. On the other hand, we still see a vulnerable, innocent little girl still in the stages of childhood. For all these reasons, Quvenzhané Wallis strongly deserves an Academy Award nomination for Best Leading Actress.

Meanwhile, in the role of Hushpuppy’s father Wink is Dwight Henry, who at an unrevealed age is also making his film acting debut. Wink is a bad-tempered, unhealthy middle-aged man who is arguably an alcoholic and occasionally abusive towards his daughter. However, we see quite a few tender moments between them which indicates that there is love there that has been manipulated by bad health, alcohol and forecast issues. Henry’s performance was not quite as mind-blowing or emotionally engaging as Wallis; not just because she’s a child, but Henry still exemplifies a physically and emotionally troubled father. This duo of newbie actors and their characters create a tender and vulnerable connection and will make the audience grab a couple of tissues.

Dramas are usually presented to intentionally manipulate the audience to make them cry, through particularly music and other sound effects. Beasts Of The Southern Wild certainly has that but because the film is told through the eyes of a little girl, we experience it along the way and feel it all for ourselves. It may have a few issues regarding the fantasy sub-plot, but the drama shows why Beasts Of The Southern Wild has a gift of telling the audience a story through a little girl and takes us on an emotional adventure. Quite frankly, the film is not for the faint-hearted but it is definitely an enchanting motion picture that is gripping from start to finish and is one of the most powerful films of 2012.

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~ by SJMJ91 on 04/01/2013.

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