Strangely Wondrous

Beasts of the Southern Wild had been on my list of films to watch for a while now. I would have preferred to see this in the theatre but was unable to find it showing in a place that was accessible to me. So I curled up on the couch on Saturday morning and watched this strange story unfurl in front of me.

This movie is a bit hard to explain. The base of the story is relatively straight forward: Hushpuppy lives with her father Wink in the Bathtub, a southern delta community that exists outside of the modern world. Their life is hard but wondrous in its simplicity. This all changes when her father becomes ill and a storm hits destroying the life she has always known. But the complexity come in when it is told from the view point of a young child, imagery is added, strange connections are made, and somethings simply disconnect.

Hushpuppy is portrayed by that cute, muscly-armed, little girl Quvenzhané Wallis that was talked about all through Oscar season. I wasn’t as blown away by her performance as everyone else seems to have been but it is worth noting. She was able to come across as tough yet vulnerable and emotionally unstable but at the same time she had pretty much the same expression on her face for most of the film. A lot of her dialogue was done in voice over and that couple with the visuals were the most poignant moments.

Dwight Henry also deserves to be recognized for his work as Wink but was greatly over shadowed by his young co-star. He was great. His portrayal of this selfish broken man was convincing enough that by the end of the film I couldn’t look at him when he was on screen.

The visual style of the film mirrored the movement through the story and how Hushpuppy’s view of her world changed. The film began kind of frantic, dream like, with intense colour, abrupt movement, and light. But as the movie continued and you saw more of her world. It was sad, disgusting, unsanitary. She may have been surround my nature but she lived in garbage. The discarded remains of a world she has never known.

I didn’t like Beasts of the Southern Wild when I finished watching it. I was angry at the end. But later on when speaking of this elicited emotion I was told that may be one of the reasons why it is a good film. And I had to agree. This movie made me angry, legitimately angry. This story about this selfish man who thought of nothing but himself until it was too late to make a difference. It was heartbreaking.

I do recommend watching Beasts of the Southern Wild. It may be strange and somewhat confusing at points but there is beauty, depth and meaning behind all of it.


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