Winner at various International film festivals, notably Cannes and Sundance, Benh Zeitlin's ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ was screened at the 14th Mumbai Film Festival as a part of the 'International Competition' Category. The film is about a six-year-old child, Hushpuppy, and the story of her coming-of-age.
The film, visually, is magnificent. Conceptually, it is an excellent debut feature. However, the film takes its time to grow on you.
Hushpuppy and her father live on an island that is cut away from the rest of the 'developed' regions in the vicinity. They survive on sea animals, possess an almost-cannibalistic lifestyle and are perpetual go-getters.
However, Hushpuppy's world comes crashing down as her home (or as she calls it, her 'bathtub') is caught amidst a storm. Nature shows her fury as not only do their permanent home and their other makeshift homes keep crumbling, but they get attacked by pre-historic creatures. The film, kind of, tries to portray this 'end-of-civilization' scenario, and does it very successfully too. To add to Hushpuppy's woes, her father has been diagnosed with a deadly disease. So, the little girl, who believes in the concept of 'THE UNIVERSE' being almost a part of an individual's being, takes it upon herself to battle these dangerous odds. In the meantime, she sets out to find her mother, whose love she has been deprived of since childhood.
‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ is a wonderful attempt by a first-time director. Benh Zeitlin could have kept the narrative a bit more linear but then, in the end, when the pieces fall together, you have a good film at hand. The kid, Quvenzhane' Wallis, is exceptional and so is the rest of the cast. The music by Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin too, is phenomenal. Ben Richardson has wonderfully captured the visuals, adding to the 'drama' of the film.
The film is about the coming-of-age of the young girl. A tale exceptionally put together by a debutante director. Although, the film will take its time to grow on you, it will leave you with a smile.