Since I don’t have anywhere near enough space here to extrapolate all the wondrous and magical things that take place in the uplifting and heartbreaking new movie from first time director Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild, I’ll get right to it: this is the best movie to come out about the modern human experience in ages – and for no small part based solely on the fact that it is told through the eyes of a child.
Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) is a young girl who lives with her destitute father in a modern Louisiana community known as The Bathtub. It is as impoverished a place as can be imagined in North America. They live essentially in what is a shack on water and have to kill animals and insects for food. There are no HD television sets, cell phones, or i-gadgets to be found. In Hushpuppy’s world, the only connection is to the misery of the land. And each other.
Somehow it all feels so incredibly hopeful. Maybe it’s because it’s a reminder of where we come from and how far we have to go. Perhaps it’s also because it reminds one indelibly of the controversial Precious which was accused of exploiting the most base and negative of African American stereotypes. There will surely be those who see the film as nothing more than a glorifying of poverty and misplaced bleeding heart liberalism, but such evaluations are beside the point.
The fact that some of us survive at all – and then turn that survival into something more tangible than victimhood – is worth celebrating.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is the must-see movie of 2012.