One of 2012's most unique cinematic visions gets a lively, evocative high-def release....
Fox / 93 Minutes / 2012 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: December 4, 2012
A bold, incessantly vivid portrait of a young girl set adrift in a land that's half fantasy, half modern nightmare, Beasts of the Southern Wild is one of 2012's most escapist herky-jerky-cam travelogues. As we follow young Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) as the events of the film unfold around her, it's never completely clear what's real and what isn't, but de facto details are never what the movie seems to have much interest in.
No, it's visual excitement here first and foremost: even those who never quite warmed to Wild during its Sundance debut or subsequent theatrical run would likely admit that the film has a distinct and indie-cum-Days of Heaven style to it, with handheld cameras painting a portrait of Hushpuppy's particular struggles that seems like a hazy, almost desperate snapshot of a young girl - and her world - in flux.
I suppose the term 'post-Katrina' could be used in establishing Beasts of the Southern Wild's narrative rhetoric, but while there's a stinging coldness to the idea that Hushpuppy spends the movie searching for her mother who 'swam away', what works about Wild is the fact that it wholly exists within the framework of its own design.
Audiences have referred to it as being overly oblique and even maybe insensitive in focusing more on the dream world of its protagonist and not the all-too-real repercussions of the splintering town and country around her, but love it or hate it, director Benh Zeitlin has fashioned a bizarre and appealing vision with Beasts of the Southern Wild. It's not an easy sell by any stretch of the term, but there were few films released in 2012 this conscious and fully realized.