Friday, July 13, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Every year there are movies that play extremely well at festivals and become the talk of the film community.  By mid-year last year that movie was 'Tree of Life' (which I watched twice and didn't find as satisfying as others), and by year's end it was 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' (which I thoroughly enjoyed even more the second time I saw it).  Without a doubt, this year's 'it' movie to date is surely 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'.  Having won prestigious awards at Sundance, Cannes, Seattle, and Los Angeles, it had already received a ton of word of mouth by the time I saw it at the Nantucket Film Festival last month.  To be fair, I saw it at the end of a long day, and in a less than optimal seat, but I always keep it real here on 'Flieder on Film' and I have to admit, I didn't get it.

But of course, most of you reading this probably haven't even heard of this movie.  So here's the general idea.  This is the story of a six year old girl (though, of almost indistinguishable gender), living in extreme poverty in Louisiana with her verbally abusive and increasingly ill father.  To its credit, I can't say I've seen anything like it.  It's quite original.  And considering its obvious low budget, it was shot well, with a few memorable scenes.  And the young girl, played by Quvenzhane Wallis (and no, I can't pronounce that), will surely be receiving a lot of attention come awards time, if only because of how young she was when she made the film.  According to the director and IMDB, Wallis was only five but lied and said she was six to get the audition, and ultimately beat out 4,000 kids for the part.  (Awards voters love those kinds of stories.)  But ultimately I found the film to be fairly unsatisfying and more than a little dull.  Perhaps my expectations were too high from all the hype.  But I could argue that had I not heard any hype at all I would have left this film and forgotten it a day later.

So the question is, is this movie as good as all the other critics say?  Or is it just the latest bandwagon?  I'll surely see it again before awards voting time to give it another chance.  But for now I say it's overrated.  Of course I may eat those words in February.

Grade: C+

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed watching this movie this weekend. You can't help but root for Hush Puppy. And of course her father is not a good man but you can see in his own way he is making decisions to try and keep her safe. The music was incredible and I enjoyed the visuals. It reminded me of Pan's Labrynth with its fantastical story and eerie mysteries. I'm not sure it was one of 2012's best movies, but I think a C+ is a little harsh.