Beasts of the Southern Wild (12A)

Film

Drama

Quvenzhane Wallis, center, and Dwight Henry, far right, in Beasts of the Southern Wild

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Posted: Fri Oct 12 2012

True originals are hard to come by in cinema, but this heart-on-sleeve, deeply eccentric tale of life, love and loss in the flood waters of New Orleans truly merits the label. First-time feature filmmaker Benh Zeitlin has adapted a one-act play by fellow American Lucy Alibar into a dreamy but strikingly immediate and frayed-at-the-edges, child’s-eye view of life on the margins of America.

The child is six-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis), a tomboyish girl who lives with her erratic dad, Wink (Dwight Henry), in a remote and wild bayou region of Louisiana – a ramshackle, watery trailer community of hard-living waifs and strays. Humans live cheek by jowl with other animals, and happily kill, cook and crunch them when the time arises.

Hushpuppy’s fears of the rising waters and her confused feelings about her parents (her dad is ill, her mum is dead, although she appears as a spirit) mean that she – and so we – slips into a world of imagination that involves strange, menacing prehistoric beasts and melting ice caps. This is a very magical and musical sort of social realism – as if Ken Loach’s ‘Kes’ was given a rewrite by Lewis Carroll.

If that still sounds gritty and grim, much of ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ consists of bursts of pure, naked emotion, and it cartwheels along at a cracking pace. It’s fleshy and mucky (and shot on grainy 16mm), but it’s also musical and colourful, with Hushpuppy’s voiceover leading us playfully and innocently through the story and scenes of fireworks and dancing.

There are hints that the story, with its levees, heavy weather, flooding and refugee camp is taking place at the time of Hurricane Katrina, but little about it is so concrete. This is a fairytale in which we regularly slip out of the real world and into another one inside an over-imaginative young child’s head. And what a crazy, fun, circus-like world that is, full of poetry and pain.

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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Fri Oct 19, 2012

Duration:

93 mins

Cast and crew

Cast:

Quvenzhané Wallis, Levy Easterly, Dwight Henry

Director:

Benh Zeitlin

Screenwriter:

Benh Zeitlin

Cinemas showing Beasts of the Southern Wild

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Brockwell Lido, Brockwell Park

Dulwich Road, London, SE24 0PA Show map/details

  • Address:

    Brockwell Lido, Brockwell Park Dulwich Road
    London
    SE24 0PA

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Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:4
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|18
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Lisa bolger

Mesmerizingly gorgeous film about everything that's important in the world. Belonging, Connection, family, the environment, loss and resilience. All from the perspective of a five year old girl named Hushpuppy. This film manages to create a allegorical modern fairytail that has the timelessness of a Grimms tale and the resonance and psychoanalytic understanding of Maurice Sendak's 'where the wild things are'. Suffice to say I loved it.

Lisa bolger

Mesmerizingly gorgeous film about everything that's important in the world. Belonging, Connection, family, the environment, loss and resilience. All from the perspective of a five year old girl named Hushpuppy. This film manages to create a allegorical modern fairytail that has the timelessness of a Grimms tale and the resonance and psychoanalytic understanding of Maurice Sendak's 'where the wild things are'. Suffice to say I loved it.

NILES CRANE

I can understand the polarised (bit of an accidental pun there) reviews. But whatever your taste or your views on global warming etc you cannot but admire the main performances (Tatum O Neil's 'youngest Oscar winner' is in danger ) the direction and the poetry of the piece. That's not being pretentious- it was daring, brave and most of all fresh. You'll actually remember this film in ten year's time. As good as it was , you'll have forgotten Skyfall by December....

agentfruit

This is, without question, a five star film. It's a work of pure genius, and is the most affecting film I've seen in many many years, and very possibly in a lifetime of cinema-going. On the surface it has a beautiful simplicity, yet under the surface it is utterly harrowing. The more you look, the more you see, and the more you think, the more you connect with the possibilities within the child's mind and her future world. The direction, acting and cinematography is sublime. It's rare to find a film like this, and if I see another in my life I'll consider myself lucky. We left the film feeling traumatised with emotion, yet uplifted with hope. A masterpiece.

agentfruit

This is, without question, a five star film. It's a work of pure genius, and is the most affecting film I've seen in many many years, and very possibly in a lifetime of cinema-going. On the surface it has a beautiful simplicity, yet under the surface it is utterly harrowing. The more you look, the more you see, and the more you think, the more you connect with the possibilities within the child's mind and her future world. The direction, acting and cinematography is sublime. It's rare to find a film like this, and if I see another in my life I'll consider myself lucky. We left the film feeling traumatised with emotion, yet uplifted with hope. A masterpiece.

Kate

I went to this film knowing nothing about it, other than that it had had good reviews, so was prepared to be impressed. I wasn't. As it veered from chaos to cliche I had no idea what it was trying to say, apart from the clunky message about climate change, which reminded me of how all wildlife documentaries once used to end. What particularly disturbed me though was a narrative that seemed to say the father's violence and erratic behaviour (by any criteria I'm familiar with) towards the child was acceptable since she, miraculously, had the maturity to deal with it. For a child of six, behaviour like that, no matter how much it’s tempered with love and affection, would be terrifying and deeply damaging. And are we also to believe that the child of the same age who acted this part could really base her performance on an understanding of what it was all about.

carol

The film is different and highly watchable.The relationship between father and daughter is poignant as it is a childs blind devotion and the fathers hurt and sorrow of life.The cinematography is fabulous and it makes a somewhat ugly environment almost lush and Dickensian .Very different but quite enthralling

jimbog

Superb - comparison with Malik I can see but where Tree of Life felt ultimately pretty meaningless (to me) this hit so many levels. There is Nick Ray film semi doc about the Louisiana bayous which would make a brilliant double bill this

jimbog

Superb - comparison with Malik I can see but where Tree of Life felt ultimately pretty meaningless (to me) this hit so many levels. There is Nick Ray film semi doc about the Louisiana bayous which would make a brilliant double bill this

Mark Riley

Tried very hard to like this movie after all the hype, but it left me high and dry. Its politics were all mixed up, while the story line was bizarre, or was it the other way round. The score was moving, but interrupted by the snoring on my left. As we left groups were visibly split by their experience but most people were having risible giggles.

john o sullivan

All the comparisons to Malick thankfully wernt justified This was watchable and visualy arresting the non acting heightned the realismn.. thankfully no magical a film that lives with you afterwards

Justin Berkovi

Contrived, long, poorly scripted, dull narrative. This pitiful attempt at cinema plays out like an overly long Sigur Ros music video. Cinema is ultimately for me connection between what's being shown on screen and the viewer but I remained vastly remote whilst watching this very low budget and tedious film. If you want to be bored silly then go and watch this nonsense. If you're too pretentious for your own good then sit squirming wishing you were somewhere else but pretending to be in 'awe' of the drivel here. It's a poorly executed but well meaning tale of desperation, the home, escape, loss and nature. Unfortunately it falls flat on it's face. So what it's got a little girl who does a 'mature' voice over every so often and gazes into the magic hour sunset. It's bloody boring and an oddly vacuous work. I really didn't enjoy it at all.

Paul C

An engaging film and soundtrack that reminded me at times of Whale Rider and at other times The Road. Entrancing lead characters held my interest and attention as the film lurches from scene to scene.

iain hammer

Nice to know that (British) cynicism and sarcasm (posing, of course, as "irony") are alive and well in the persona of Mr Ince. Or perhaps he was just plastered.

iain hammer

Nice to know that (British) cynicism and sarcasm (posing, of course, as "irony") are alive and well in the persona of Mr Ince. Or perhaps he was just plastered.

godfrey hamilton

The performance by the staggeringly gifted Quvenzhane Wallis is, itself, enough to justify the cost of your ticket. That the movie is simply wonderful makes it an unmissable deal. Really, seriously, it's the Film of the Year; saw it at the Arclight in Hollywood with an enraptured audience. And enraptured they should be. It's that good. Deeply moving yet without a shred of sentimentality or unearned emotion, celebrating the need for extended family while refusing cliched narrative tropes about motherhood and opting instead for a clear-eyed appreciation of our essential aloneness, possessing a mythic power and, finally, affirming that there are some things movies can achieve which are not possible in any other medium. UK audiences are in for a treat and a half.

godfrey hamilton

The performance by the staggeringly gifted Quvenzhane Wallis is, itself, enough to justify the cost of your ticket. That the movie is simply wonderful makes it an unmissable deal. Really, seriously, it's the Film of the Year; saw it at the Arclight in Hollywood with an enraptured audience. And enraptured they should be. It's that good. Deeply moving yet without a shred of sentimentality or unearned emotion, celebrating the need for extended family while refusing cliched narrative tropes about motherhood and opting instead for a clear-eyed appreciation of our essential aloneness, possessing a mythic power and, finally, affirming that there are some things movies can achieve which are not possible in any other medium. UK audiences are in for a treat and a half.