Beasts of the Southern Wild is a small independent film with the feel of a documentary. It takes place in the south, an area the natives call The Bathtub. Surrounded by water, in the shadow of a levee, it's primitive living. We meet Hushpuppy, a girl around six years old, as she bounds around her trailer wearing underpants, a top, and plastic white boots. Her daddy (Dwight Henry as Wink) in another makeshift trailer throws a chicken on the grill, calls to her to put her pants on and come eat. Roosters roam through, dogs wait for a bite, trash piles up, and times are tough.
Plenty of moonshine to go around as the big storm approaches. Folks batten down the hatches and pray. When morning comes and Hushpuppy and her father emerge, they see a new water world. Their old one is submerged. In an improvised boat - the back of a pickup truck with a motor and huge oil drums as pontoons- the two float along to find other survivors.
The remains are heartbreaking but the joy in finding the living is exhilarating. Soon, government intervenes to "save" these folks. But they've never lived in society. It's bewildering and despite the dad's medical condition (i.e. he's dying from a blood disease), the Bathtub clan plan their escape and head back to the world they know.
It's amazing and gut-wrenching at the same time to watch these folks' lives. Yet they are strong and will survive. The girl playing Hushpuppy, Quivenzhane Wallis, is a revelation - so cute, so resilient - she is a superb little non-trained actress. Beasts of the Southern Wild is raw and will stick with you for a while.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.