Beasts Of The Southern Wild (2012)

BENH ZEITLIN

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5

USA, 2012.  Cinereach, The Department of Motion Pictures, Court 13 Pictures, Journeyman Pictures.  Screenplay by , Benh Zeitlin, based on the play Juicy And Delicious by Lucy Alibar.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by , Benh Zeitlin.  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .  

A little girl and her father live in humble (to say the least) circumstances on an isolated Louisiana island in the gulf, she frequently making do for herself when the old man, who is slowly dying, leaves her for periods of time.  Magic realism enters the fray as the girl’s imaginations of her long-gone mother touch the corners of her mind, while she discovers the wonders of the natural world (and invents a few of her own) before the devastation of Katrina puts their entire community into disarray.

The law appears, attempting to escort the people of the village to safety, but the villagers lock up their shacks and hide, believing themselves to be right where they belong and determined not to leave. The grungy side of life has rarely been given a more shallow, fetishistic treatment in a film that feels like it is directed by someone from a far more privileged viewpoint; poverty and degradation are merely opportunities for aesthetic flourishes rather than an actual examination of either these characters’ souls or a unique cultural portrait of American culture.

The performances range in quality, with the director’s decision to hire non-professionals showing more obviously in some cases than others.

Academy Award Nominations:  Best Picture; Best Actress (Quvenzhane Wallis); Best Director (Benh Zeitlin); Best Adapted Screenplay

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