Pin It
favorite

Sink or Swim 

'Beasts of the Southern Wild' an apocalyptic swamp fantasy

click to enlarge PICKUP GAME Eight-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis steals the film as Hushpuppy.
  • PICKUP GAME Eight-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis steals the film as Hushpuppy.

A gumption-crazed little girl survives what looks like post-industrial living in Beasts of the Southern Wild, and she's so cute that she's even named Hushpuppy.

Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) lives in a waterside squatters' camp called "the Bathtub." A hardnosed teacher in a makeshift classroom schools her in the facts of life. It's a dog-eat-dog world, and "every animal is made of meat—your ass is made of meat."

The teacher in this swamp town hitches up her clothes to display a $200 tattoo on her thigh depicting some kind of mythical whangdoodle. That's all the proof Hushpuppy needs that ice-locked beasts of the Stone Age could rise again. She has reveries of glaciers melting, and foresees tusked, piglike monsters slowly advancing and treading on miniature buildings like Godzilla.

Hushpuppy tries to bond with her ailing dad, Wink (Dwight Henry), who has come back to the Bathtub just in time. The muddy waters are rising. The government orders the villagers to go to a shelter. That's when a storm hits and inundates the town.

After some flooding, Wink and Hushpuppy go for a float using a boat made of the butt end of a pickup truck, with some plastic barrel pontoons and a motor. The sights they see aren't pretty; a drowned, bloated steer, headfirst and twisted along the littered bank, stands in for the human dead who would be scattered after a disaster.

First-time feature director Benh Zeitlin takes a studiously precious approach to all of this lower-depths life. Too often, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a low-budget, marsh-staged version of Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are—relentlessly, self-consciously elemental. Wallis is an appealing young actress, but her character is a daughter of the swamp in the same simplistic sense that old movies featured sons of the soil.

'Beasts of the Southern Wild' opens Friday, July 13, at the Rafael Film Center.

Pin It
favorite

Latest in Movies

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

More by Richard von Busack

Find It

Submit an event

Boho Beat

July 21: Chicago Cannon in Santa Rosa

July 23: Ruby Celebration in Healdsburg

July 23: Lifetime of Landscapes in Petaluma

More »

Facebook Activity

Most Commented

  • Human Network

    The Lab aims to build connection in a disconnected world
    • Jun 8, 2016
  • Reggae Days

    Ridgway release new album with hometown show
    • Jun 29, 2016
  • More »

Twitter

Read more @nbaybohemian

Copyright © 2016 Metro Newspapers. All rights reserved.

Website powered by Foundation