One of the most striking aspects of “Beasts,” given its pedigree, is the way it blends realism and fantasy, allegory and observation. “Once there was a Hushpuppy,” the narrator (herself the Hushpuppy in question, played by the remarkable Quvenzhané Wallis) informs us, and this 6-year-old girl, living in tough circumstances in a stretch of Louisiana bayou called the Bathtub, very much resembles the heroine of a fairy tale. Her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), is a dying king in difficult times, bequeathing his realm — mainly squalid trailers and old oil drums, but also an ethos, a tribe and a way of life — to his resourceful and rebellious daughter. And if the girl is vulnerable, she is also powerful, her temperament a tough alloy of innocence, stubbornness and guile…
The magic of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is that it does not worry too much about distinguishing among the elements of this quest, or inviting the viewer to sort them into different levels of meaning. It may be possible to surmise, in retrospect, that the aurochs (as the mythic beasts here are called) are symbolic, that Hushpuppy’s bittersweet meeting with her mother is a dream (or a case of mistaken identity) and that the actual world this child inhabits is more full of weeping than she can understand.
My favorite film of the year was the recipient of a gushing piece from A.O. Scott in the NY Times.
Short URL for this post: http://tmblr.co/ZK5foxaPbvWd