When a film is nominated for Best Director and Best Picture, I tend to pay attention. When its 6-year-old lead is nominated for Best Actress, I find a way to watch it. At the very least, I have to see what makes a child Oscar worthy. In retrospect, I’m glad that I saw this movie for two reasons: A) I got to see a character, played by a kid, that you don’t see every day, and 2) I can now, when the award is about to be handed out, say with confidence that this film does not deserve it.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is part vivid reality and part haunting metaphor. The main character sums it up best when she says, “This is the story of Hush Puppy, who lives with her Daddy in the Bathtub.” Hush Puppy is a little girl living in poverty with her father in the South, on a bayou island called the Bathtub. When a hurricane hits, her life is turned upside down, and put very literally underwater. As she tries to understand the world around her, her imagination weaves into her daily struggle to survive.
This film should never have been made. Nothing about the movie was good enough to be produced, sold, or nominated. Yes, Wallis was good, but you could argue that she never did any acting, and I would say none of the other actors did either. It was the story that was interesting, that should be told, but not necessarily seen. The blend of reality and fiction was strange at best; it never made a significant point and was unneeded. At the the end of the film I wasn’t satisfied; I was curious, and I would enjoy talking about what the various metaphors represented, but I could have gotten that from reading the script.
My rating: ✰ ✰