“Beasts of the Southern Wild” enchants viewers


Claire Bentley, Editor-in-Chief

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” is a quasi-fantasy, drama film depicting the life of hopeful six-year-old Hushpuppy, played by Quvenzhane Wallis, and her sick father, Wink, who live in a storm-riddled Southern bayou called The Bathtub.

Life in The Bathtub is not like the lives we are so used to living. In The Bathtub, getting from place to place requires a boat, school means a dilapidated floating structure with a handful of scroungy, adventerous kids, and having fun means celebrations with people both young and old, fireworks and sparklers, and screams of plentiful joy.

Wallis plays a fearless young girl, but in her small stature transcends age and maturity. Hushpuppy lives with her father, who often reacts abrasively but learns that he is dying of an unnamed sickness. The duo vow to stay in the Bathtub, although a dangerous storm approaches and threatens to uproot their community.

“Beasts” is the directorial debut of Benh Zietlin, and adapted from a one-act play written by Lucy Alibar. The film is both magical, and wholesome, with a film score that seems like it would accompany a peaceful dance, or the daydreams of a child.

As Hushpuppy navigates a topsy-turvy life, she vows to find her mother, and takes a swim through the river to a boat with three silent comrades, one of which, a blonde girl who wears a silk nightgown – reflecting this surrealness and dreamlike instance of happening upon a small ship and being taken to a dive bar called the Elysian Fields.

There, Hushpuppy is given some life advice from a woman who may or may not be her mother. She tells Hushpuppy that she is welcome to stay with her, but Hushpuppy swims back to where she belongs.

Whether “Beasts” is an ode to childhood, or fear of the unknown, or perhaps both, the film is a spectacle of beauty that seems so unlikely, and Quvenzhane Wallis makes a character strong-willed and noticible. Hushpuppy is not quiet. Nor is the movie itself.