LFF Review: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wild has been hailed as a ground breaking film, winning rave reviews from this years Sundance and won the Camera d’Or at Cannes, but after watching it myself, at the London Film Festival, I’m not sure I agree. The film focuses on a father and daughter who are part of a bayou alternative community, living an isolated existence, in a one horse town called “The Bathtub”. The bayou theme of the story brings in elements of New Orleans and the Bathtub community, mirrors the human collective pull of the Hurricane Katrina survivors – these people of the Bathtub community feed themselves, teach their own kids and look after each other. Completely independent from the outside world.

The two main leads of the film are played by non-actors, who happened to live in the area near the production company, Court 13‘s offices. Dwight Henry, who plays the father of Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis), worked at the donut shop across the street. He Does a decent job in the role, but most of the accolades have gone to Wallis, who has been touted to possibly become the youngest Oscar winner….now this is where I start to say ‘Cool it!’ Don’t get me wrong, she does a fine performance, but Oscar worthy – give me a break! There are plenty of other child actors out there who could run circles around her.

The hype surrounding the film seems completely unjustified to me. It’s a fine début, but not enough to run the rest of the competition out of town. The plot seems to sway back and forth between Malik-esque voice-over and dream-like sequences to full on realism – You could almost imagine there was a loose plot holding the film together, but director Benh Zeitlin couldn’t decide what film he was making, so shot loads of additional material and strung it together for a feature film. There is also another plot, running along side the film, which involves giant warthog-like creatures, called Aurochs, which slowly break out of the melting polar ice caps and race their way to the bathtub, with out any obvious intent. Yes I know it’s some sort of metaphor for the environment, global warming, blah, blah…but how that links into the greater theme of the film is a mystery to me.

In all honesty I probably wouldn’t be railing against this film so hard if it wasn’t for the over-hyped praise it’s receiving. In terms of cinematography, it’s up there with the best. Shot in 16mm, it gives the grainier look, which is now starting to fade away from independent film and being replaced by Digital. Overall, it’s a decent début, but not enough for me to want to watch it again.




  1. […] so. That film should never have been nominated, and if you want to know why, see my review here.  Overall there was no clear front-runner sweeping the awards, which I […]

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