Achingly poignant, mythically powerful film, told from the perspective of six-year-old “Hushpuppy” (Quvenzhanem Wallis, a forceful sprite with a gift from the gods); living in the disastrously destitute Louisiana bayou; alone, she resides in a shack, next door to her abusive, alcoholic, terminally ill father, “Wink” (brilliant portrayal by Dwight Henry) in an island of muck, detritus, prehistoric, called “The Bathtub” a euphemism for an ark, comparable to “Noah’s”; when the deluge strikes, only the few, the “chosen” and their animals survive. This is a community rarely focused upon (herein lies the genius and prescience of Benh Zeitlin, Lucy Alibar; based on the stage play she wrote, “Juicy and Delicious”); comfortable in their inebriated squalor, entitled in their refusal to move from their doomed environment, weirdly, they demand and earn our respect.
The southern wild and their mythological beasts (aurochs) belong to “Hushpuppy”; she envisions a universe of magical equality, where opposites in nature and mankind find their destiny; she sees herself as a specimen for future scientific studies; her splendid and luminous imagination distance her; hovering far above her elders; she is an observer, and so innately formidable that you never fear for her triumphal survival. She is “the man”!
Hushpuppy, like “Ulysses”, is challenged with vicissitudes that would fell most mortals; with each victory she is enhanced to the point of invincibility; she is “Eve” a “Valkyrie” , an “Amazonian” force , nature does not intimidate her, she thrives; she flies.
The cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful, reminiscent of the Big Bang Theory when universes collide, glaciers melt, the world is formed and mercilessly magnificent beasts thunder, plunder the land.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” is profoundly spiritual; humbling in its magnitude; Hushpuppy is a metaphor for endurance, life; she embodies the immortal, and shimmers with divine resilience. We admire her, we are awed by her; from birth she inherently knew that all strength comes from within; she covets, protects and enhances its powers, every second of every day, with each breath she takes; she is mighty, magical, unforgettable.