Beasts of the Southern Wild took awards season by storm and it can sometimes be difficult to watch a film without the baggage of that critical acclaim. I am glad I took the opportunity to experience this beautifully grubby movie.
There’s no avoiding the incredible central performance. I have a child of the same age as the character of Hush Puppy and to see her emotional reaction to the neglect and aggression she experiences from her troubled father is very affecting. The director Benh Zeitlin delivers two key gut punches which hit home towards the beginning and the end of the movie. Made on a shoestring budget, the mixture of child-like fantasy and harsh reality play exactly to the tone of Hush Puppy’s existence. Her thoughtful reaction to an embrace in the film’s latter stages is saddening beyond belief and yet her spirit throughout is extraordinary.
In the shadow of Hurricane Katrina, it is impossible to feel anything but vulnerable in the bayou and that tightrope walk of survival mirrors Hush Puppy’s need to survive neglect, the weather, malnutrition and disease.
Hopefully you enjoy the experience of watching Beasts of the Southern Wild but it will only be as the credits roll. It’s a tough experience and very emotional but it’s well worth it in the end.