Fox Searchlight’s new indie effort, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a moving story that’s one part coming-of-age story and one part allegory about the yin and yang of life. The story’s protagonist, Hushpuppy, lives with her father in a tiny town off the coast of Louisiana nicknamed “The Bathtub.” The story’s writers don’t come right out and say it, but it’s intimated that her mother died in childbirth, as audiences see her father have a flashback in which he is carrying her as a newborn. This leaves him to be her primary caretaker. As a result, the father/daughter dynamic is difficult to say the least. Though he shows that in his own way, he cares about her regardless.
Hushpuppy’s father shows his love and devotion for her after a giant storm much like Katrina comes along and wipes out “The Bathtub.” He shows her how to fish by hand for catfish, and tries so hard to get back to her when the residents of “The Bathtub” are forcibly evacuated from their homes after the storm. Along the way, her father’s devotion to her leads Hushpuppy to grow up very fast and have to learn to care for herself. And she does just that as she and the other residents try to get back to their homes. This personal growth on Hushpuppy’s part captivates and engages the audience. Her deep desire to find her mother is painful, yet so moving at the same time. It all leads up to a final bittersweet moment that will leave any true movie lover at least somewhat in tears.
The story presented in Beasts of the Southern Wild is not the first coming-of-age story ever presented to audiences. But for writer/director Benh Zeitlin and co-writer Lucy Alibar, it is an impressive first effort. From the general cinematography to the use of untrained, local actors and the writing, audiences get in this presentation a movie that represents everything that is right with independent films. In an age when so much of American movie fare is sequels, prequels or remakes, this movie is proof that originality is still alive and well in Hollywood’s modern era. And it gives hope for the future of movies, too. Beasts of the Southern Wild will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, December 4th. It can be ordered online direct Fox’s online store at http://www.foxconnect.com.To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.