Beasts of the Southern Wild (12A)

Directed by Benh Zeitlin
Written by Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin
On general release from 19th October 2012

Reviewed by Darren Guy

I was dying to see this film as I had heard some great reviews from Radio 4 in the Guardian. I still remember Spike Lee’s fantastic documentary When the Levees Broke (2006) and I was not disappointed. Brilliant acting, brilliant cinematography and sensitive, understanding tense drama.

The film is set during Hurricane Katrina in the world of 6-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) and her hard-drinking father (Dwight Henry), living together in a broken shack. Hushpuppy desperately tries to understand the world and the oncoming raging hurricane. In her imagination, she continually sees a series of giant wildebeests while her father, who has a terminal illness, tries to toughen her up to prepare her to fight for her future.

Based around a small community of people who, understanding what is in store for them, must decide if they should leave their houses and community, or stay put and see the hurricane through.

There are a number of beautiful things about this film, one is that it’s based on people we very rarely see on the American screen, ordinary poor people, who love and care for each other. These people who are strong, have a sense of themselves and understand clearly what the other Americans have in store for them, should they give up their home. These people are survivors of catastrophic disaster, that very few people would stay sane through. It bridges the ups and downs of a father and his daughter and the love and loyalty they have for each other. It captures beautifully the world seen through the eyes of a six-year-old girl.

Not many laughs, but an excellent and very moving film.

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