Directed and co-written by Benh Zeitlin, Beasts Of The Southern Wild is written by Lucy Alibar and adapted from her one-act play Juicy and Delicious. As a relentless storm approaches a southern Louisiana bayou community called the Bathtub, a community cut off from the rest of the world by a levy, the film follows six-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) who, faced with both her hot-tempered father (Dwight Henry)’s fading health, must learn the ways of courage and love as the ice-caps melting threaten to flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs.
Beasts Of The Southern Wild really is one beautiful film. Who’d have thought that a fantasy drama about climate change narrated by a six-year-old would work? I certainly didn’t, but I’ve watched this a couple of times now and it still holds an exhilarating power. The premise is quite simple but there’s a huge depth to it, making Beasts Of The Southern Wild powerful and emotional but light-hearted and incredibly sweet at the same time. There’s a lot of meaning behind what happens, mainly expressed through the young girl’s narration, mixing an incredible piece of imagination with a strong sense of reality.
The story behind Beasts Of The Southern Wild is refreshingly original, and that’s the film’s biggest quality. Complimented excellently by beautiful performances, Quvenzhané Wallis leads the film incredibly, pulling on your heart-strings in all the right places. Nominated for the Best Actress award at this year’s Oscars, 9-year-old Wallis is the youngest ever nominee for this Academy Award, and it’s no surprise considering how well she holds this film up.
It is her relationship with her father that gives the film its power. The first time I watched the film I hated Dwight Henry‘s role as Hushpuppy’s father, as I saw all of his actions as an act of violence. On my second watch, however, I started to see how he was, in fact, preparing Hushpuppy for a world on her own. Having to watch a young girl try to understand the world around her whilst her father drinks his life away is bound to provoke an emotional response from most of its audience, as the fantastic mix of magic realism and melodrama pulls you under the floods with them.
Beasts Of The Southern Wild was released on DVD on 11th February.