Once there was a Hushpuppy, and she lived with her daddy in The Bathtub.
Even after a million years, the scientists and moviebuffs of the future will be delighted to know it.

Directed by Benh Zeitlin, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild‘ is a compelling piece of art about a mystical land of the beasts and love of a father and his daughter. 
The plot is set in the fictional island/community called ‘The Bathtub’; a secluded locality on the other side of the wall of civilization. The movie follows the lives of it’s residents leading a life of beasts and in particular HushPuppy (Quvenzhan√© Wallis) and her father Wink (Dwight Henry).

The movie is narrated as experienced and understood by it’s 9 year old protagonist HushPuppy. This transforms the audience into a mystical world innocence and a universe built over interesting ground-rules. The equation of life on The Bathtub is simple; even though the dynamics are harsh and unforgiving. The man and the beasts are one and the same. The inhabitants are uneducated, have no jobs, eat uncooked meat, make merry and do not cry in the face of hardships. Everything and everybody living is considered meat; all part of the grand buffet of the universe.

The story takes a turn when the melting of polar ice and an imminent storm poses permanent submersion of the island. The inhabitants have to either choose between facing extinction or evacuation. While most of the inhabitants relocate, a handful of people including our protagonists choose to stay back.

The best part of the movie is the father-daughter relationship and of course HushPuppy’s mystical world and its revelation over 90 minutes. Wallis as HushPuppy is an absolute delight (youngest actor ever to earn an Oscar nomination for the leading role). Her emotions are real, actions affable and dialogue delivery impeccable. The charm and innocence lending an undeniable sincerity to the narrative and the plot.

Strong animals know when your hearts are weak.

Dwight Henry (first time actor) portrays the complex character of Wink; striking the balance between a concerned father and the fearless beast of the community. His concern and love for is daughter in the most unorthodox ways forms some of the best moments in the movie.

In spite of an offbeat plot and narrative, the outcome is exceptional. The camera is consistently shaky, but the background music more than just makes up for it and any other technical irregularities. The music succeeds immensely in simultaneously painting the dual picture of the grim situation and the cheerfulness in its protagonists.

There are also subtle social messages driven in the movie such as the preservation of nature, ecological balance and even man-beast relation. But it not what makes the movie an above-average experience. In the run-time of 90 odd minutes, one can’t help being smitten by HushPuppy and life in The Bathtub.

In the end, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild‘ packs a compelling narrative and powerful performance in a heart warming story. One of the spectacular movies made in the recent times. Do not miss it.

My rating: 8.5 / 10

Related Trivia:

  • Quvenzhan√© Wallis was five years old when she was chosen for the role
  • Dwight Henry is a first time actor and a victim of Hurricane Katrina

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