Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

beasts of the southern wild poster 2012 movie
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great movie with a good story, great acting, and great look


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Beasts of the Southern Wild

Studio:   Journeyman Pictures

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  January 20, 2012 (Sundance)/June 27, 2012

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

beasts of the southern wild quvenzhane wallis

There was a girl named Hushpuppy who lived in the Bathtub

Bathtub is disappearing.  The small flood prone community where Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) and her father Wink (Dwight Henry) live with other proud residence.  When a massive storm is scheduled to hit Bathtub, Hushpuppy and Wink decide to sit it out with the other residence.  Wink is not well and knows that soon Hushpuppy must be strong since she will be alone.  Hushpuppy must find her strength and become a beast if she is to survive.

Directed by Ben Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a fantasy drama.  The movie is an adaptation a 2010 short stage play called Juicy and Delicious by Lucy Alibar.  The movie premiered at Sundance and received positive reviews.  The film was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actress (Wallis), Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

beasts of the southern wild hushpuppy wink dwight henry quvenzhane wallis

Be the Beast!

Beasts of the Southern Wild is one of those odd movies that is so distinctive that it takes you a bit by surprise.  The look and feel of the film is great and almost comes off as a documentary in points.  Much like a City of God or even Winter’s Bone, Zeitlin creates a world where the often overlooked people are given real dimension.  They might be poor but their pride and actions are like every human being…these are the people you see on TV following horrible hurricanes and worsening climate conditions and question why they just don’t move as storm after storm destroys their world.  The simple answer is that many of these people cannot afford to move on…but it is much more complex than that as the movie demonstrates.

beasts of the southern wild aurochs hushpuppy quvenzhane wallis

Aurochs ruin every party

The next amazing thing about the movie is that it is held together by an actress who won the role when she was five.  Quvenzhané Wallis shows acting ability much, much beyond her years and give a lot of heart to Hushpuppy.  Wallis was just found by filmmakers who actually wanted an older child but wisely cast Wallis.  It does make me nervous with a kid this young finding such a real feeling performance.  It feels natural for Quvenzhané Wallis, but kids like Dakota Fanning are child actors, acting down to their characters with intense deconstructions of who they are…Wallis feels like she just is Hushpuppy without a deep analysis.  I do hope that with such fame early on that she is protected and that if she never can live up to this film that she isn’t ruined by it.

Wallis does overshadow Dwight Henry as her father Wink which is unfortunate because he also gives a great performance.  His character can come off as neglectful or cruel, but he is doing what he thinks is best for her.  His desire to instill his daughter with strength also is filled with fear of losing his daughter and her losing him.  Hushpuppy obviously loves her father but is also frightened by him, and Wink wants that fear since he knows he’s not going to be there for her…but it is also killing him.  It is a great performance from a guy that the filmmakers found at the bakery across the street from the casting office.

beasts of the southern wild hushpuppy ending quvenzhane wallis

I’m a kid…want to make something of it?

The film is a fantasy.  Hushpuppy is taking in the world as it is explained to her and trying to interpret what she is told (and not told) as she sees it.  A lesson about aurochs early in the film plagues her as her world is being overtaken by water and changing.  In her mind, aurochs ruled the world before man, and they are reclaiming it.  The picture might not be a traditional fantasy, but the aurochs look pretty good in the final scenes.

I really enjoyed Beasts of the Southern Wild.  This is one of those films that you can see a trailer for and just see that it is going to be something special…and in this case, it lives up to the hype.  The movie has endured over the years and still remains one of the more interesting films of the 2010-2020 movies.  With top notch acting, great visuals, and a smart story, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a must see.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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