BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD has won almost universal acclaim plus prizes at Sundance and Cannes, but I can give it only a mixed review.
The movie is an "art" film that's supposed to be a kind of poetic vision.
It focuses on a 6 year old girl who lives in extreme poverty with her alcoholic father who's so sick he may die soon.
The little girl's performance is far and away the best thing about this film which romanticizes poverty and is shot with a shaky hand held camera.
Six year old Quvenzhane Wallis is Hushpuppy, the heart and soul of this unique independent film about a father and daughter who live in "The Bathtub," a Louisiana bayou shanty town that is about to be flooded.
Hushpuppy: The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece, the entire universe will get busted.
I don't know of any six year old that talks like this, but....
What we see on screen is mostly Hushpuppy's mystical vision of a shabby little world that includes pre-historic beasts called "aurochs."
The style of BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD has been called "poetic realism" or "magical realism," but for me, only the amazing self-possession of the little girl kept me watching.
Hushpuppy: When it all goes quiet behind my eyes, I see everything that made me. ... flying around in invisible pieces. I see that I'm a little piece of a big, big universe.
Hushpuppy's father is played convincingly by a non actor--Dwight Henry, who, in his normal life, is the owner of a bakery. I give the filmmakers credit for courage and originality, but those traits don't necessarily translate into good work.
After the flood hits, the father and a handful of his friends refuse to leave the shanty town which seems crazy to me especially since there are innocent children to care for. But director Benh Zeitlin wants us to see this little group of homeless drunks as misfit idealists with a larger vision than the practical.
Most critics say he succeeded; I think he's pretentious.
Even though I was caught up in several parts of the film, overall, I felt a little cheated.