Faced with both her hot-tempered father's fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love.
Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.
Hushpuppy, an intrepid six-year-old girl, lives with her father, Wink, in the Bathtub, a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. Wink's tough love prepares her for the unraveling of the universe; for a time when he's no longer there to protect her. When Wink contracts a mysterious illness, nature flies out of whack, temperatures rise, and the ice caps melt, unleashing an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs. With the waters rising, the aurochs coming, and Wink's health fading, Hushpuppy goes in search of her lost mother. Written by
Sundance Film Festival
Benh Zeitlin gives considerable credit to Qulyndreia Wallis, mother of the movie's six-year-old star Quvenzhané Wallis who was always on the set and helped Zeitlin explain concepts and draw emotions from her daughter to maximize the quality of her Oscar-nominated performance. See more »
When Hushpuppy places the Michael Jordan jersey on her sleeping father the shot is reversed - the number 23 is backwards. See more »
All the time, everywhere, everything's hearts are beating and squirting, and talking to each other the ways I can't understand. Most of the time they probably be saying: I'm hungry, or I gotta poop.
[listening to bird's heartbeat]
But sometimes they be talkin' in codes.
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What it lacks in story structure it makes up for in mise-en scene--great stuff!
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
An engrossing, vigorous, fanciful, primal movie set in Southern Louisiana in time of flood and strife. It's about the power of people to survive. It's a celebration of animal behavior. It's about community and loneliness. There are echoes of ourselves in all these people in their craziness or compassion, or their uneducated wisdom (or lack of wisdom which then depends on luck and instinct).
In short it's quite a ride, and the leading character is a little girl who now is up for an Academy Award nomination for best actress, with the only question about that being the weirdly simple and true question--how much is she acting, how much is she just being herself with amazing transparency on the camera? Well, the same could be said of lots of adult actors who are really just themselves over and over, and so you really can watch "Beasts" for the stellar and heartwarming effort by Quvenzhané Wallis.
There are other performances startling for their gritty (or downright filthy) realism, including the girl's father. But these start to intermix and blend into a larger effort involving the elements of wind and rain and flood, unbridled partying, moments of tender caring including some folk wisdom by the teacher and healer of the group, and so on in an up and down, topsy turvy mix.
You can love this movie just for its insider look at a culture that you hardly knew possible in the United States any more, or even in any third world country for its primitivism. It is in fact rather based on truth though ramped up and made sensational and into a kind of fairy tale. There are (in reality) some islands that have communities struggling on the fringes along the complex coastline of Louisiana, and some of them have almost no development, and correspondingly little education and health care. The film was shot on an actual island like this, though it given a fictional name (nicknamed the Bathtub by the characters).
You can also love this movie for its metaphors. If there is misunderstanding and cruelty between father and daughter, there is also a base instinct to stick together and survive. If there is a sense of independence there is also a dependency on neighbors and outsiders. If the world seems out of whack and insane you still find ways to make part of it reasonable, by either makeshift construction or by changing your outlook. And there are those giant boar animals menacing the main character in some kind of dream. This is really about survival in ways that go beyond physical comfort and food.
There is a problem, especially for people who appreciate more sophisticated movies for their plots and their filmmaking savvy, with the generally meandering narrative. The movie is not without ups and downs and an evolving sense of drama. But it depends more on its scene and its characterizations than on what happens with them. Things happen but they don't particularly develop, in the usual sense. You'll be spellbound and maybe even frightened (or according to some reviews, disgusted) by many of the scenes, but you might also start to wonder what it's all leading to. That's the narrative instinct in all of us for a development toward some kind of climax or turning point, and it's not compelling.
So just be immersed. Admire the fact these are amateurs and independents. Click back a few expectations and be surprised by some of the content for its immediacy. Unique and riveting.
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