High wa­ter mark

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - LEIGH PAATSCH

‘‘ THE en­tire uni­verse de­pends on ev­ery­thing fit­ting to­gether just right,’’ says the nar­ra­tor of this unique and ut­terly breath­tak­ing drama.

The speaker is a six- year- old girl named Hush­puppy ( re­mark­able new­comer Qu­ven­zhane ´ Wal­lis), and only a fool would ques­tion how she has ac­quired this wis­dom at such a young age.

The ev­i­dence put for­ward by Beasts of the South­ern Wild is all too con­vinc­ing as it is.

Yes, ev­ery­thing fits to­gether just right here, of­ten at the very times it should not.

Take the gen­uinely dis­ori­ent­ing open­ing min­utes of the pic­ture as a case in point.

It is as if we are be­ing dragged into an­other world – a dan­ger­ous, squalid and doomed world at that – against our will.

You can­not help but hope that Beasts of the South­ern Wild will have other places to go. Places that are safer, prettier and hap­pier than this. It does not. Nev­er­the­less, Beasts is not a work where com­plete des­o­la­tion will bring on a state of com­plete de­pres­sion. Quite the op­po­site, in fact.

The will to give in is no match for the will to go on de­picted here. Who knows?

Next time you’re think­ing the only way is down, it just might be the mem­ory of this de­cep­tively in­spi­ra­tional pic­ture that picks you up.

The film is set on the flat­lands of coastal Louisiana, where Hush­puppy and her not- so- well- off neigh­bours are about to face a flood of bib­li­cal pro­por­tions.

Let’s not tip- toe around the al­lu­sions be­ing made here.

The storm is Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina by any other name. So those afore­men­tioned pro­por­tions are not just bib­li­cal, they are po­lit­i­cal as well.

Those who could not af­ford ( or just did not know) to flee the on­slaught were un­wit­ting ticket hold­ers in a life- or- death lottery.

The odds of liv­ing to see an­other day have scant mean­ing for lit­tle Hush­puppy. Re­gard­less of the con­se­quences of the flood, death is al­ready all around her.

The sole parental pres­ence in Hush­puppy’s world is her fa­ther, Wink ( Dwight Henry). He is very sick, and does not have much time left. He can no longer pro­tect his daugh­ter from what is to come. He can only train her to think and fend for her­self.

Hush­puppy’s pow­er­ful sur­vival in­stinct and the uni­fy­ing spirit in the sur­round­ing community are de­picted in a highly un­ortho­dox, yet di­rectly mes­meris­ing man­ner.

The whole ex­pe­ri­ence is like a dream come to life, with lit­tle Hush­puppy do­ing all she can to stop it from end­ing in a night­mare.

Filmed with an am­a­teur cast and staged with as­ton­ish­ing imag­i­na­tion and emo­tion, this is un­doubt­edly one of the great movie happenings of the year.

And as for Qu­ven­zhane ´ Wal­lis as Hush­puppy, words alone can­not de­scribe what this small child achieves with her tow­er­ing per­for­mance, which car­ries al­most ev­ery scene of the pic­ture.

Do not miss.

Now show­ing State Cinema

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