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BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD Review. Southern folklore and movie magic come together in Beasts of the Southern Wild.

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 Comment on BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD Review. Southern folklore and movie magic come together in Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Benh Zeitlin makes feature-length directing debut with fantastical BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD

5 star rating

Southern folklore and movie magic of the Tim Burton variety come alive in Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Beasts, a childlike fantasy set in the marshes outside New Orleans, arrives in art-house cinemas as the “must-see film of Sundance 2012” and the reputation of Fox Searchlight acquiring the film during a heated bidding war soon after its world premiere.

Unlike any other Sundance drama in recent memory, Beasts matches its arty hype and then some.

Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) is a six-year-old girl who lives with her father Wink (Dwight Henry) in a southern Delta community outside New Orleans. Everything changes when Wink turns sick and Hushpuppy has to fend for herself from a devastating storm and the arrival of mythical beasts.

A number of non-actors come together to tell Beasts’ magical tale of a father and his young daughter fighting against the elements; fighting against the world and the result is a beautiful mix of emotional realism surrounded by childlike fantasy that includes a rousing scene of Hushpuppy and her neighbors marching across a narrow land bridge.

Wallis shines as the little girl who fends for herself from storms, flaming trailers and Beasts unfolds via her sassy perspective on the world around her.

Benh Zeitlin, filmmaker, composer, animator and founding member of the independent film company Court 13, makes his debut feature with the dreamlike fantasy taking full advantage of the colorful surroundings of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.

Lucy Alibar is the original playwright and co-writer of the adapted screenplay with Zeitlin.

Southern folklore, fantasy storytelling and innovative stage effects bring the movie alive and Beasts unfolds via an authentic child’s voice. With Hushpuppy at its center, Beasts is the polar opposite of the typical Sundance, gritty coming-of-age, urban drama. Instead, it offers audiences a burst of magical realism and the chance to see a movie like no other in theaters this summer.

Granted, there are plenty of reality twists and turns but at its core lies the heartfelt relationship between a young girl and her sickly father.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a fever dream from start to finish and it’s beautiful to behold.


Distributor: Fox Searchlight

Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry

Director: Benh Zeitlin

Cinematographer: Ben Richardson

Screenwriter: Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar, from the play Juicy and Delicious by Lucy Alibar

Composer: Dan Romer

Producers: Cinereach, Court 13 Pictures, Journeyman Pictures

Running Time: 93 minutes

Rating: Rated PG-13

Release Date: Summer 2012


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