Saturday, 17 November 2012

Film Review: Beasts of The Southern Wild - (2012)

Director: Benh Zeitlin
Starring: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry and Gina Montana
Running time: 93 minutes
Age Rating: 12A
UK release date: 19th October 2012

"The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece... the whole universe will get busted."

It's not often that a film makes me emotional. I find that a lot of modern cinema tries to force us to form emotional connections with characters, but I find that only distances me from them.

Beasts of The Southern Wild truly got to me.

Hush Puppy lives in a place called Bathtub. She's six years old and seems to understand more about life and death than anyone else. Everything seems fine for her and her father, Wink, but soon life starts to fall apart. Wink is suffering from an illness unknown to the audience and his daughter, while the rising water and destructive storms constantly attack Bathtub. This film is pretty bare bones in terms of story, being more of a character driven film. But this is far more compelling than most of the things Hollywood are up to these days.

The film can be grim and difficult to watch at times. Its shot to look extremely grainy and old, with a grey and brown colour scheme dominating most of the film. However, this isn't a visually dull film. The use of this grim style makes the limited use colours truly stand out. I was more visually impressed with this film then big Hollywood blockbusters that spend a fortune trying to make their films look nice. This film understands that beautiful imagery stands out when it balances it with the opposite.  The cinematography of the piece is very good. It is mostly done in a handheld/shaky cam sort of way, but it contributes to the very realistic and naturalistic style. The plot is built to be very believable, which works well when trying to make the characters feel relatable.

I don't quite know how to describe the sound track, other than its used perfectly and is awe inspiring. It has elements of nursery rhymes mixed into big epic instrumental pieces. Slow emotional pieces that are really uplifting. Just an overall amazing score that fit so well with the tone and feel of the film. It really helps the film define its overall identity and give the audience something to remember.

Like I said, this film is a character driven film. And the performances are mind blowing. The two leads have absolutely no experience in acting and yet inject so much life and energy into the film. Quvenzhané Wallis is the heart and soul of the film. Considering how old she is (Six!) makes the impact of her performance even more fantastic. Dwight Henry is equally impressive as Hush Puppy's father. The two work together so well and the relationship between the two is what drives the film. The point of the film isn't for some goal or objective to be achieved it's about the characters living and surviving together. While it may bother some people that there isn't really an end goal in the film, I don't see a problem. It's a compelling film that's about the relationships between its charters.

This film is held together by its awe inspiring performances, lush visuals and absolutely beautiful music. It's as heart-warming as it is heart-breaking and constantly keeps you engaged in its narrative. You'll never see anything like Beasts of The Southern Wild, So please don't miss this film.

"I see that I am a little piece of a big, big universe, and that makes it right."

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