Monday, July 30, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild

This film seems to be a retelling of a folktale. It has the dream logic and extreme behavior of one, but this "folktale" was created by writer Lucy Alibar and director Benh Zeitlin. It exists in the shadow of the current worldwide environmental disaster and concerns six-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvanzanhé Wallis) and her father Wink (Dwight Henry). They live in a multi-racial, funky Arcadia called the Bathtub. It's located in the Mississippi Delta on the edge of the Gulf.

Hushpuppy lives in a world suffused with magic interconnections. Small local things lead to global effects. She believes that something she's done has thawed out primordial aurochs which are stampeding across the world spreading destruction. Whereas the historical aurochs were the direct ancestors of present day cattle, the "aurochs" in "Beasts" look like wild boars the size of elephants. And then the inundation comes.

Quvanzanhé Wallis gives an amazing performance. "Beasts" does not always work at all points but it has enough wonderful/beautiful moments to make it well worth taking a look at. You won't see anything else like it this summer.

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