Verdict: 4.5 / 5
First time director Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, a surprise hit at Cannes and Sundance, explores a post-Katrina New Orleans. It’s the powerful story of survival and hardship unfolded through the eyes of a tenacious six-year-old heroine named Hushpuppy. And it’s a sight to behold; a wondrously weird tale of a little community hidden away within the U.S. but completely separated from western civilization. Beasts of the Southern Wild is a unique and engrossing story that will sweep viewers away with its heart-breaking characters and powerful imagery of both the real and imagined. You’ve never seen anything quite like this before.
“Everybody loses the thing that made them. The brave men stay and watch it happen. They don’t run,” says Hushpuppy as she narrates. Living with her tough-loving father, who has his own set of unconventional parental values, in a swampland, Hushpuppy longs for a relationship with her long-lost mother. Under the threat of environment change, violent storms, poverty, and her father’s deteriorating health, the six-year-old must learn to fend for herself in their fading community known as the Bathtub. And if you didn’t first get what it’s about, her father offers an answer; “My only purpose in life is to teach her how to make it.” Yes, it’s an unconventional father and daughter relationship in the midst of poverty, lack and suffering.
If nothing else, the film, which borders on being a documentary (with stunning visuals exploding with energy and colour), will charm its way into your heart and force you to feel true compassion for the characters. Few films can boast having the rare qualities incorporated into Beasts of The Southern Wild. You can’t help but be moved and caught up by the loveable Hushpuppy and her daddy, Wink.