The world of a child can sometimes be a scary place. Young kids have strong emotions and the difference between the real world and their imagination is blurry. Beasts of the Southern Wild is a movie that explores the unusual world of a little girl named Hush Puppy, as she goes on a journey of discovery.
Beasts of the Southern Wild takes place in a rural location off the coast of southern United States called The Bathtub. For a city girl such as myself, I was struck by the lifestyle that Hush Puppy lives. She lives a poverty stricken, brink-of-survival type of lifestyle, and has to learn to take care of herself from an early age. Her father is hard on her, and her mother has either died or left them.
At first, I pitied Hush Puppy. But I realized that although she has an atypical childhood, she isn't entirely unhappy with her way of life. Her community loves and accepts her, and while her father isn't going to win a "Dad of the Year" award, he teaches her all that he can and loves her deeply. Hush Puppy is a happy little girl, who is extremely clever, strong and imaginative. She's well prepared for the world she lives in. I don't think the movie romanticizes the way of life her community has, but it does teach the viewer to respect that way of life.
Hush Puppy is thrown into chaotic, challenging situations after a storm hits the village and floods it. She uses a story of mythical animals about as a way of dealing with her emotions, and the monsters on screen serve as a metaphor for her journey. However, it becomes clear that the beasts that the title refers to are more than the monsters Hush Puppy imagines. It is the people of the Bathtub village that are the beasts. They are creatures trying to survive in a harsh environment.
The 6 year old actress, Quvenzhane Wallis, that plays Hush Puppy is the best and most important part of the movie. Her performance made me get caught up in the film. I just loved this girl and I felt for her and understood her. Wallis's performance stands out amongst those of numerous other great actors, and without her in that role the story would not have been as interesting.
There are a few tiny flaws. I felt the way the movie was filmed could have been better. It's uncomfortable to watch sometimes - you just wish the camera person took a few steps back. I also think the central story takes a while to get going. However, these tiny little flaws barely affect my opinion on the movie. Beasts of the Southern Wild is so interesting and worth watching.
The only reason why I'd be uncomfortable recommending this to KidsPickFlicks readers is that it's really not a kids film. Though the story may be about a little girl, there's drinking, some sexual content, and scary situations that may this film a bad choice for the 10 and under crowd. It's about Hush Puppy's observations of the adults around her, and the adults don't always behave well. All of the adults are caring and loving of the kids in this movie, but they do some things that would make parents of young kids shudder. The movie is also a bit slowly paced, so it might lose the interest of more immature kids. However, it's not a long movie.
I'd highly recommend this to a mature audience, who can handle the more adult content and can focus even when things are moving slowly. Beasts of the Southern Wild manages to be both fun and tear jerking. While it's not a huge blockbuster movie, I hope people take some time to watch it.