Has anyone else seen this limited-distribution film? Since we knew it would not come to South Lake Tahoe, I went with a group of friends to Reno to see it. Set in a soggy area of Louisiana subject to violent storms and flooding, it is told from the perspective of a six-year-old girl, and has won several awards.
For me it was a somewhat confusing, but completely compelling tale. The performances of Quvenzhane Wallis as the child, Hushpuppy, and Dwight Henry as her alcoholic father, Wink, were extraordinary.
I'm particularly interested in hearing from the Southerners on our board.
Thanks for the heads up Kay, it is playing right down the street. I checked out a review from Hawaii. Hushpuppy is adorable.
"The movie going experience is not only a means of escapism: it is vital to how we expand our imagination, perceive otherworldly and realistic narratives so we can make more sense of our own world, and invest ourselves intellectually and, more importantly, emotionally. Beasts of the Southern Wild is a film that will make you believe that movies can do this again; it blossoms, leaves a personal impact, and beats with life only if you are willing to decode the sound and listen.
Hushpuppy (Quvenzhan Wallis) and her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), live in The Bathtub, a post-Katrina Louisiana bayou, where there is desolate wilderness, water everywhere, and levees separating this community from the industrial city. Although there is a daily struggle to survive, there is life here in a very harmonious community that celebrates it, often with the help of a drink and some fireworks, despite the conditions of poverty. Home is theirs to own, and as a collective they thrive but only for so long.
As a hero in the tradition of Huckleberry Finn, Hushpuppy is a charismatic and brave young girl, and it’s her innocence that helps her to defy the harsh life that she has and makes her mighty. Contrarily, her ignorance makes her vulnerable in a world where dangerous creatures lurk and eat their own to survive. Wink tries to toughen her up so that she too can learn how to survive on her own, many great scenes involve these lessons, but as a child she still seeks compassion, calls out to her missing mother in desperate times of need.
The magic-realism of this film is engrossing and will make you feel simultaneously lost in this world and scared of it, especially considering the dissonance you may feel between your life and theirs. This is an intimate film that is very much defined by Hushpuppy’s relationship to her father, nature, and the universe. She listens to the heartbeat of animals as if to decipher what they are trying to communicate, and she longs for a consistent connection to the people around her, especially to impress her father, hoping to win his compassion rather than tough love. One action can make fissures in reality, anger can lead to storms, but joy in the universe can be lifting.
Her journey is never ending, but this moment in her life is defining. Hushpuppy, molded by her father, ideas of her mother, and everything she has ever learned up until that point, must be brave enough to stand on her own. She seeks cohesion in what can be a chaotic, unpredictable life, and it’s her reaction that comes from within that will guide her to becoming whole. In one of the best scenes of the film, one of the men try to show Hushpuppy how to break open a crab with a knife, but her father discourages this and tells her to “beast it” instead with her hands. The whole room shouts, and in a close-up Hushpuppy is focused and committed; when she succeeds, she stands triumphant, flexing and screaming. Her success resonates even though she is a small part of the universe."
We saw it yesterday. Almost felt like standing to applaud as the credits rolled. It was that good!
Manohla Dargis of The New York Times placed it “among the best films to play at Sundance in two decades.” Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times named it one of the year’s best films. “Sometimes miraculous films come into being,” he writes, “made by people you’ve never heard of, starring unknown faces, blindsiding you with creative genius.”
a local review...
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