Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Hush Puppy, an irrepressible 6-year-old, and her widowed and sickly father, patrol the bayou for fish in a motorized truck bed. Soon she will be confronted with the realities (and unrealites) caused by the shifting polar ice caps which plague her community with a massive hurricane and extinct prehistoric land creatures. Physically removed from her home and confronted with her dad's illness, Hush Puppy sets off to find her mother, whom she sees as a beacon of light on the horizon. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is the debut film of Benh Zeitlin which is replete with staggeringly beautiful imagery and contains a knockout performance by its young actress in Quvenzhane Wallisand. However, it is marred by the lack of a narrative drive, which makes it feel long even at 91 minutes and, more importantly,  the conflicted nature of the relationship between the young girl and her neglectful brute of a father, with whom we are supposed to be in sympathy with. I had a difficult time commiserating with the characters when they are removed from their diseased ridden homes by government officials and could muster up even less for this repellant father figure, especially during soppy latter scenes. I really wanted to love this film. It is probably the most gorgeously rendered one of its kind since "The Tree of Life", with which it has more than a few things in common. I just couldn't go along with its confused plot or find sympathy in its brutish and stubborn characters.