High water mark
‘‘ 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