Thursday, January 3, 2013

Movie Review: Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Beasts of the Southern Wild movie posterBeasts of the Southern Wild (2012) - Directed by Benh Zeitlin; Written by Lucy Alibar and Zeitlin. Starring Quevenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly.

By Kenny Howell

I had seen and read a little bit about Beasts of the Southern Wild before diving into Benh Zeitlin's unique little film.

It's a very unusual story about a father and daughter who live on the other side of the levies in Louisiana, and basically live in another country. They don't want to be a part of the other side, and definitely don't want the government or people on that side telling them how they should live their lives.

But a storm is coming, and it will possibly destroy their community, which is basically made up of scraps. When the storm blows through, and her dad falls ill, the daughter, named Hushpuppy, must find the courage to save her community.

When the movie works, it is because of how well Zeitlin captures the mind of a child. The movie is told basically from Hushpuppy's view, so you can't exactly trust her innocent view of the world. Prehistoric beasts have become unfrozen after global warming freed them, and seem to be heading right for the area. Is that real, or is that Hushpuppy's take on what she learned in her school? It reminded me of Where the Wild Things Are in that sense, because what that film did was go inside the mind of a child. Where the Wild Things Are did it better, but Beasts does it well too.

However, the whole film doesn't work for me, and I really can't work out why. It is obviously original, but does some of that uniqueness work against it? Does it try too hard? How in the world does a trailer sitting up in the middle of the bayou have electricity and a gas stove? How do they have fuel to run their boat? Does the father have a job? The movie makes it seem like they don't really go on that side very often, and outsiders don't really come in. I think that not really understanding how that community operated didn't ground it enough in reality for me. I may have missed something, but I couldn't pin down how it all worked.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is definitely worth a view because anything that takes chances with something new is worth seeing. The whole thing just doesn't add up for me.

Rating: ***

No comments:

Post a Comment