NewsBlaze search box Daily News header

Beasts of The Southern Wild Film Review

By     get stories by email

Carefree Cherub Laments Climate Change in Enchanting Cautionary Parable

6 year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) is being raised under the radar in "The Bathtub," a backwoods bayou located on the swamp side of a Louisiana levee. The self-sufficient tomboy divides her days between attending to her sickly father (Dwight Henry) and living in harmony with a handful of other hardy refugees from civilization.

Hushpuppy feels sorry for children growing up on the land in nearby New Orleans because they eat fish wrapped in plastic and have been taught to fear the water. And while those city kids were caged in strollers and baby carriages during their formative years, she's been free to explore surroundings teeming with vegetation and a menagerie of wildlife.

girl
Photo: www.rottentomatoes.com
Yet, her existence is far from idyllic, given how much she pines for the mother her ostensibly-widowed daddy explained simply "swam away" one day. The heartbroken little girl tries to fill the void via flights of fancy coming courtesy of a vivid imagination that enables her to carry on imaginary conversations with her long-lost mom.

Hushpuppy's vulnerability is further amplified by her father's failing health and by an ominous foreboding that climate change could destabilize the eco-system of her natural habitat. For, she's been warned by Miss Bathsheeba (Gina Montana), a sage soothsayer who also serves as her surrogate mother, that "The trees are gonna die first, then the animals, then the fish."

So unfolds Beasts of the Southern Wild, a compelling, coming-of-age parable marking the extraordinary directorial debut of Benh Zeitlin. An early entry in the Academy Awards sweepstakes, this surreal fairy tale about the prospects of the planet so richly deserves all the accolades already heaped upon it at Sundance, Cannes and other film festivals.

Considerable credit must go to newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis, a talented youngster who not only portrays protagonist Hushpuppy but narrates the film as well. Like a clever cross of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, the movie repeatedly reminds us of a pre-pollution, pre-digital era when children were still encouraged to plunge headlong into nature to experience the world firsthand rather than artificially through electronic stimuli.

A visually-enchanting fantasy shot from the perspective of a naïve waif magically untouched by the 21st Century.

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated PG-13 for profanity, mature themes, child imperilment, disturbing images and brief sensuality.

Running time: 91 minutes

Distributor: Fox Searchlight

Trailer for Beasts of the Southern Wild:

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, and the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee. Contact him through NewsBlaze. Read more reviews by Kam Williams.

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

Directed by Anne Fletcher, Hot Pursuit is a mindless diversion chock-full of the staples of the unlikely-buddies genre, like car chases, and accidental drug use.
Three big budget films. Paper Towns, Pixels and Southpaw. Teens saving a neighbor, retro-gamers saving the planet and a southpaw boxer saving himself.
A post-slavery purge of blacks resulted in a whitening of the Argentine population, as immigrants from Italy, France, Lebanon and Syria were welcomed.
Djimon Hounsou calls in to reflect on survival issues on and off screen, as an immigrant and actor of color, once jobless and homeless in Paris.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E., directed by Guy Ritchie is relatively tame, compared to his usual work, such as Snatch (2000) and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Prairie Miller has a conversation with the star of a new Off-Broadway play, Sandra Lee, herself a victim of rape in the military as a soldier in Iraq.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month


Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2015 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site