Title: Beasts of the Southern Wild
Director: Benh Zeitlin
This year’s Sundance darling, I feel pretty privileged to watch it in the sole KVIFF screening, the director/writer Benh Zeitlin’s debut, one could barely not be appalled and impressed by its highly creative visual exploitation of a heart-wrenching story.
Set at a deserting southern Louisiana community, the film dares to bring its audience to the eye-opening life of a 6 year old girl Hushpuppy with her single father Wink, they live in the spartan shambles, while Wink’s health is deteriorating and rainstorm and flood are invading their resident area, Hushpuppy has to pull through all these trial and tribulation and in a paralleled line, she must face the mythological prehistoric beasts broken free from the North Pole, which are pouncing on her, her friends and neighbors.
The narrative has condescended to a subordinate position since the compelling and largely hand-held camerawork and Quvenzhané Wallis’ naturalistic stretch as Hushpuppy is just more than enough to petrify me, and the CGI scenes of the wild-hog-like creatures are simply magnificent which is hard to believe they are originating from an indie budget.
Wallis is such a natural-born wonder-child, her superb boldness in front of the camera is beyond any expectation from a 6-year-old child. Dwight Henry, who is also non-professional, but delivers an equally dazzling instinctive skill to be the masculine-outwards but feeble-inwards father.
Compared with, say, Sundance-winner-and-Oscar-contender WINTER’S BONE (2010, an 8/10), personally speaking I might incline to BONE, since its structural integrity of narrative more belongs to my cup of tea, but the originality of BOTSW has without doubt prompted the film per se a sure-fire candidate for next year’s Oscar campaign, and especially at the For Your Consideration endorsement of BEST PICTURE, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST LEADING ACTRESS, BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR and BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY (a hand-shaky but mind-steady Ben Richardson).