Not too long ago, a friend asked me which films had made me cry. I genuinely couldn’t think of one… Then weeks later, lo-and-behold, Beasts of the Southern Wild tugs my heart-strings and the tears are rolling. It sounds a bit strange, but there was just so much unspoken raw emotion in the facial expressions of father and daughter that I couldn’t help myself.
A fair heap of film reviewers across the internet have weighted down the beauty and originality of Beasts through backhanded comparisons to Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life. But let me tell you, Tree of Life, bathed in all its pretention certainly didn’t get me going.
Remember that scene at the end of Tree of Life, where all the people are walking around barefoot on the beach? Everyone was searching more some significant meaning in a universal context, and it became all too esoteric.
Through a gifted performance by Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy, a six-year-old girl contemplating the way the universe fits together, a lushly ramshackle landscape of great beasts and environmental wonder is born right into her home in “the Bathtub.”
Beasts is so charming in its honest dream sequence style that we just unquestioningly let the magic realism be what it is.
Beasts of the Southern Wild – Benh Zeitlin (2012, USA)