I’m sure this movie carries some kind of symbolism, but I’m not entirely sure what it is.

Featuring

Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy
Dwight Henry as Wink
Levy Easterly as Jean Battiste
Philip Lawrence as Dr. Maloney
with Gina Montana as Miss Bathsheba

Beasts of the Southern Wild was so well received that its pint sized lead actress, Quvenzhané Wallis, gained an Oscar nomination for her performance at the age of nine. Logically, it sounded like a very good movie, so I decided to give it a shot. What I got was another typical slow, ponderous and overrated movie full of symbolism, which seems to be only kind that can be nominated for, let alone win any of the top Academy Awards.

Beasts follows the story of Hushpuppy, a well built, comfortable shoe, a six year old girl who lives with her father in an impoverished, subsistence community called “The Bathtub”, a small low lying island separated from the rest of civilization by a giant levee that protects the mainland shore from floods and storms. The movie follows the everyday lives of Hushpuppy and her fellow villagers before and after a massive cyclone hits their island, devastating their community. While most of the Bathtubers evacuate, some stay behind, out of love for their lifestyle and home.

In the midst of the storm’s arrival, we also follow the difficult relationship between Hushpuppy and her father, Wink, who is bad tempered, mildly alcoholic and dying of a blood related disease. Throughout the film, he’s trying his darndest to help his daughter grow up as quickly as possible, before the inevitable occurs, and she’s left to fend for herself, since the fate of her mother is uncertain. Despite everyone in The Bathtub being a supportive and lovely bunch, the future seems bleak for Hushpuppy.

Watching this movie, is an exercise in fascination, tempered with a large dose of frustration. It’s obvious that Quvenzhané’s performance is absolutely stunning, and the rest of the cast are all very much unknown, despite their excellent performances. For example, Dwight Henry, who plays Wink, is a baker and this is his first movie. That unknown and untrained actors can carry off so convincing a performance is lovely, but the movie’s pace, presentation and predictable storyline is frustrating. Then there are the scenes of freaking Aurochs, nothing more than badly costumed pigs, running around for no apparent reason interspersed throughout the narrative.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is possibly one of the most perplexing and disappointing movies I’ve seen in the last year, mainly because it makes no real sense. I get that it’s about learning to grow up and face your future, and if you examine it in sections, there are moments of brilliance, but the whole package is dragged down by predictable storytelling and strange symbolism. Or, maybe I’m just dumb and I should simply stick to watching movies which substitute ever larger explosions for symbolism. Like Transformers.

Rating

It’s hard to rate something I don’t quite understand.

Should I watch this?

If you have some drugs, then you should watch it while taking them, because then, the movie will likely make sense to you. Otherwise, if you’re like me, then you should give it a miss, and select something like Bad Neighbours.

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