Saturday, 16 February 2013

Beasts In A Southern Child

The shortest of the Oscar nominated films at just over an hour and a half, today's film is the film that you may not have heard of because it was so small. There is one most years. See Winter's Bone in 2011. So will this have the same success? This is Beasts Of The Southern Wild.

Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis), a six year old girl, lives with her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), in a forgotten little slum known as The Bathtub. She lives under a different roof to her father and fends for herself. But when a storm threatens to flood The Bathtub and a mysterious illness begins to affect Wink's health, the smart residents of the settlement run for higher land but Hushpuppy stays with her father to fight out the weather. The rest of the film looks at the remaining few Bathtub locals and their reaction to the storm and the government that forgot them. Above all though, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a tale about Hushpuppy and her strength, power, and independence.

Without a TV, Wink cheers over literal fantasy football.

They say never work with children or animals. Some of the other Oscar nominated films have severely ignored the latter (see Life of Pi) but Beasts of the Southern Wild completely disregards the first, and never has a better decision been made. It would be insulting to put Quvenzhan√© Wallis under the term of child acting because good child acting suggests, 'Aw, didn't they do well for their age.' Wallis did not do well for her age, she did well, period. Rightly nominated alongside the likes of Chastain, Watts, and Lawrence because, simply put, she is completely legitimate competition for them. Aged 5 when she auditioned for the film, she manages to carry the whole movie on her back better than some actresses who have been in the game for years. Sadly, her co-star, Dwight Henry, was not recognised by the Academy and it is almost unbelievable. Wink, being the deep and complex character that he is, is portrayed incredibly, and in some respects, beautifully, by Henry, a small town baker who turned down the opportunity to audition because he wanted to focus on his baking. Wink is a strong character, but there is a great deal of veiled love for Hushpuppy hidden behind his rough exterior. A truly brilliant performance.

'Hello? Is this the number to talk to hot chicks?'

Benh Zeitlin's direction does more than tell Hushpuppy's story. It opens the audience eyes to a whole way of living that we often forget. A community forgotten and left to their own devices and how, as a western world, we can neglect them and only think for ourselves. That we try to help those who want no help. It takes our world and turns it into a gritty, yet realistic, fantasy tale. The natural world and the human world colliding in a beautiful story that tugs on every single heart string possible. Assisted with some terrific camera work and a hauntingly atmospheric score, Beasts of the Southern Wild is an emotional roller coaster that is a wonder to watch and will keep you engaged and captivated from the start.

For some of the finest acting I have ever seen, let alone from a 6-7 year old, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a must see. Bring a box of tissues and be ready to go on a journey.


Best Bit? Hushpuppy and Wink's attitudes towards the storm are so captivating, you can't help but want to know everything about them.

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