BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (Zietlin) | ★★★
After rave reviews out of Sundance and Cannes, Beasts of the Southern Wild, the directorial debut of Benh Zeitlin, arrived in commercial theaters with immeasurable hype. Is it worthy of such acclaim? No, but it is still a worthwhile picture.
Much credit for the film’s success goes to the frighteningly good performance from amateur child actress, Quvenzhané Wallis, who plays the young protagonist, Hushpuppy. Her irrepressible spirit and warm presence carry an often dark story of poverty, miseducation, and tragedy. Don’t be surprised if her name comes up again around Oscar time. Another critical piece is the original score by Dan Romer and the director. The music is some kind of brilliant Cajun-flavored concoction fused with the grandeur of a more traditional film score.
The screenplay has some problems—the clumsy titular beasts, a clichéd third act—but Zeitlin makes up for this by giving the viewer a glimpse into a Louisiana bayou world seldom seen in cinema.