*Join me as I review all of the 2013 “Best Picture” Academy Award nominees*
– Life of Pi
– Beasts of the Southern Wild
Rarely does a director’s debut film strike such a chord with its audience the way that Benh Zeitllin’s debut Beasts of the Southern Wild does. A tale about a little girl and her dying father’s struggle in the poverty-stricken outskirts of a bayou in Louisiana to co-exist and live in a world void of nice things, imagination takes precedence.
Beasts‘ is filled with southern charm and great acting, which is nothing short of a miracle considering the film stars a (then) nine-year old Quvenzhane Wallis – so good that she is nominated for a Best Actress Oscar – and first time actor Dwight Henry. The cinematography is second to none and while watching you’re constantly in amazement that Zeitlin was able to pull this type of film off.
The movie centers around Hushpuppy (Wallis) as she fights to stay a imaginative little girl while looking out for her alcoholic, dying father. While Hushpuppy knows there is something seriously wrong with her father, she can’t yet put two and two together. The two travel the bayou preparing for a major storm but their world comes shattering down after the storm when their home is destroyed. It’s the road the two take fighting/arguing/making up/and loving each other which really makes the film great.
You might be tempted to think Hushpuppy is a distraught little girl in need of rescuing, but it’s also made painstakingly clear that that could not be further from the truth. It’s Hushpuppy who does the rescuing. She is the hero/damsel/princess/and grown up all in one. It’s her imagination that keeps her going and probably rescues her from herself. You never once get the sense that Wink doesn’t love Hushpuppy but at times it’s hard to imagine why Hushpuppy would stick her neck out for that guy.
At its best Beasts of the Southern Wild is a coming of age story about a mature little girl who’s heart is not so little. At its worst it’s a character study of poverty-level Louisiana intertwined with a genuine feel for what is real and what is imagination. It’s not hard to see why Beasts is nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.