Advertisement

Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Beasts of the Southern Wild

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for thematic material including child imperilment, some disturbing images, language, and brief sensuality
Profanity:Some strong and colorful language
Nudity/Sex:Some sexual references, prostitutes
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking and drunkenness
Violence/Scariness:Apocalyptic storyline, real and fantasy peril, fire
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters
Movie Release Date:June 29, 2012
DVD Release Date:December 4, 2012
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic material including child imperilment, some disturbing images, language, and brief sensuality
Profanity: Some strong and colorful language
Nudity/Sex: Some sexual references, prostitutes
Alcohol/Drugs: Drinking and drunkenness
Violence/Scariness: Apocalyptic storyline, real and fantasy peril, fire
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Movie Release Date: June 29, 2012
DVD Release Date: December 4, 2012

A prize-winner at Cannes and Sundance, this near post-apocalyptic story of a father and daughter in a condemned part of Southern Louisiana is a stunningly assured debut by first-time feature director and co-writer Benh Zeitlen and extraordinary performances by a cast of non-professionals.

Six-year-old Hushpuppy (the mesmerizing Quvenzhané Wallis) and her father Wink (Dwight Henry, who owns a bakery in New Orleans) live in homes made from trash in a fictional community called The Bathtub.  They do not have electricity, running water, or telephones, but Hushpuppy is happy and feels lucky to be there.

Advertisement

Zeitlen, the 29-year-old son of folklorists, makes this story exquisitely lyrical.  It is poetic in tone and epic in scope.  Seeing through Hushpuppy’s eyes makes it feel like a fairy tale because of the freshness of her conception of what is real and what is fantasy, what is strange and what is ordinary, what is scary and what is comfortable.  Like Margaret O’Brien in the beginning of “Meet Me in St. Louis,” she introduces us to the community she loves.  Like Alice, she brings us into a strange and enchanted world.

‘The Bathtub has more holidays than the whole rest of the world,” she tells us; while ordinary people in other places only have one or two holidays, they celebrate all the time.  She is a part of a fiercely devoted community.  We hear her repeat what she has been told and we see the contrast between what she is telling us and what we are able to understand.  Her father’s hospital gown and the precariousness of their shelter signify nothing special to her, but we can tell it means that her father is very sick and the next big storm will flood The Bathtub.  What we see as peril and deprivation, she sees as a place of myth and plenty. And she sees it as her home.  For her, it is “the prettiest place on earth.”  That is what she has been told and that is how it seems.

Advertisement

Later, when they are taken to a shelter, we see that through her eyes, too.  For Hushpuppy, it is not a place of rescue and protection but a place of strangeness and sterility.  Buses parked outside, ready to take displaced people from the exotic but familiar world of The Bathtub to strange-sounding far-away places like Des Moines seem institutional and predatory.  Later, another possible rescue takes her to a part of the “civilized” world that again, we understand when Hushpuppy does not see how very dangerous it is.

Advertisement

Hushpuppy’s teacher points to the tattoo on her thigh to illustrate her stories about the aurochs, boar-like prehistoric beasts.  The fable-like timelessness of the setting makes the era of the aurochs feel very close.  When they appear, in a scene of breathtaking synthesis of myth and metaphor, Hushpuppy’s spirit seems to expand to fill all of the courage, resolve, and vision of the human spirit.

Zeitlen achieves a naturalness and state of wonder that is breathtaking to experience and one of the most impressive films of the year.

Parents should know that this movie includes a child and adults in peril, a parent who is critically ill, images of flooding, destruction, and mythical beasts, some strong language, scenes in a brothel, and drinking.

Family discussion:  Why didn’t Wink want to leave The Bathtub?  What could the relief agencies do to be more responsive to this community?

If you like this, try: documentaries “When the Levees Broke” and “Trouble the Water”

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment IOREK

    William Tasin, I don’t understand why a story about alcoholics living in squalor is unworthy. You obviously have never heard of Eugene O’Neill, William Faulkner or Ernest Hemingway, but they are among America’s greatest writers. I found this a wonderful, magical movie, full of charm and optimism about the human spirit, even among people who have nothing.

    As for your confused notion about the “global warming brain washer,” your opposition to the science of climate change makes you as superstitious and irrational as hushpuppy (although theoretically you have less of an excuse for being so). And if you watched the movie you would see these people are not living “off the government,” on the contrary, they flee the “well-intentioned” embrace of the government.

    I can understand why you aren’t a film critic.

Previous Posts

Interview: Director John Goldschmidt on "Dough"
John Goldschmidt is the director and co-producer of the film “Dough,” a sweet comedy about an Orthodox Jewish baker (Jonathan Pryce) whose new assistant is a Muslim teenager from Darfur who has a side business dealing weed. The marijuana ...

posted 3:40:09pm May. 02, 2016 | read full post »

Janis Joplin on PBS American Masters
The two most dazzling life performances I have ever seen or will ever see were both by Janis Joplin. This week, the PBS American Masters series is her story. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BecO7FgQnEc Here she is at the Monterey music ...

posted 1:58:52pm May. 02, 2016 | read full post »

Trailer: Snowden
There's a new movie coming out about Edward Snowden, directed by Oliver Stone, a master of paranoic drama with a historical focus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KyltHXrxVk If you're interested in the issue of government spying, national ...

posted 8:00:00am May. 02, 2016 | read full post »

The Meddler
Marnie (Susan Sarandon) is the irresistible force who, just before this movie starts, meets the immovable object: devastating grief in ...

posted 11:42:17am May. 01, 2016 | read full post »

May 2016: Movies This Month
Happy May! The blockbuster movie season officially starts this week with the latest superhero movie from Marvel, and the month will end with another superhero movie as well. But we'll get some good smaller movies, too. Here's what I'm looking ...

posted 12:18:04am May. 01, 2016 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.