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Review: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Posted August 24, 2012 by in Drama







Musical Score

Total Score

83/ 100

What We Thought

Genre: ,
Actors: ,
Runtime: 93 Minutes
Available in 3D: No

What We Liked :

Fantastic performance from Quvenzhané Wallis, Unique story in a marketplace full of stale ideas

What We Disliked:

Responsibility of Hushpuppy too large, Fantasy element feels thrown in
Bottom Line

In a time when studios keep on creating the same material, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a bright light.

by Max
Full Article

First-time director Benh Zeitlin has created a fairy-tale land in Beasts of the Southern Wild. In a mixture of rough coming-of-age story mixed with a lot of the same feelings Pan’s Labyrinth portrayed, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a fierce emotional ride. Beasts of the Southern Wild has already had reaps of praise from the Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival, could it possibly live up to expectations?

The Bathtub, this is their home.

The bulk of the story takes place in a fictional location known only as The Bathtub. Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) has only her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), left to guide her through the world, but she fully understands the gravitas of her situation. She listens to the heartbeat of every creature and she knows what it means to be truly alive. In one of the most memorable opening sequences in a long while, the location and people of Beasts of the Southern Wild are given purpose. Hushpuppy and the other families belong in The Bathtub, this is their home.

Hushpuppy doesn’t understand why her mother isn’t alive anymore. She struggles with the realities of her world. While Wink loves her he is an alcoholic and is not the same man he once was. Wink has a harsh demeanor about him, treating Hushpuppy with equal parts abuse and guidance. There’s always a question about how much he loves Hushpuppy, perhaps he even blames her for the death of his wife.

On one fateful day, Hushpuppy sets fire to her camper and in the process hurts Wink. That was the day that the water came. While the storm is never referred to as Hurricane Katrina, based on the destruction and culture of The Bathtub, its an easy assumption to make. The devastation is massive of course, but for the surviving residents of The Bathtub they don’t fear survival, they fear being taken from their homes.  While the residents struggle with the problems of survival and keeping their homes, a pack of extinct, bison-like creatures named aurochs, come back to life to wreck the Bathtub. One would figure that the movie was names after these creatures. I believe it was named after the willpower and spirit of the people of The Bathtub.

A Father/daughter relationship during the harshest of conditions.

At the heart of what makes Beasts of the Southern Wild such a great film is the performances from the two leads Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry. Quvenzhané Wallis was only five years old when she auditioned for Beasts of the Southern Wild, but she has talent beyond her years. She has the responsibility of carrying the emotional weight of the film on her shoulders and she succeeds. Dwight Henry was also an unknown. He auditioned for the part, but his main occupation was that of a baker. He has to struggle with his own mortality, while also raising his daughter during the storm of a century.


Beasts of the Southern Wild isn’t as much about mythical creatures as it is about a father/daughter relationship during the harshest of conditions. While their are some problems with the finale with the amount of responsibility Hushpuppy takes on, its negligible compared to the rest of the picture. In a time when studios keep on creating the same material, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a bright light.

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About the Author


Chief Editor of Impassionedcinema. A film enthusiast who studies and creates his own films. Criticizing movies is his favorite pass-time.



    This truly felt like a magical film in many ways … I liked it.


      Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for checking out my review. I'm not sure it lived up to the massive amount of hype for me, but it was enjoyable.


    So glad you were finally able to see this, Max. It still blows my mind that nearly everyone involved with this were absolute beginners. Can't wait to see what Zeitlin does next.


      Your telling me about being absolute beginners. It's hard to imagine. I guess some people just have the talent. I wonder if Zeitlin will stay small though. Hopefully he doesn't jump to whatever big name project comes up for him.

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