What can be said about this little independent film that is taking Hollywood by storm right now? Nominated for “Best Picture of 2012,” this movie has quickly become the buzzed about film of last year. With standout performances by unknown actors Quvenzhane Wallis & Dwight Henry and a superb script and directing turn by Benh Zeitlin, this movie has so much going for it that I wouldn’t be surprised if it did manage a surprise knockout of the bigger-budgeted “Lincoln” on Oscar Day.
Set in a modern day Louisiana bayou, a poor fishing community known as “The Bathtub” is faced with danger when glaciers flood their little town. The remaining inhabitants of the Bathtub come face-to-face with the reality that their town may be destroyed forever. But the townsfolk (which include our little heroine, Hushpuppy) fight on to protect their community and struggle to survive. This movie is told from Hushpuppy’s perspective, so the imagination of a 6-year old comes into play, especially during severe storms and flooding waters. What this film is REALLY about though is the love between a father and his daughter. Dwight Henry as the angry yet doting father is a pleasant surprise here. He drifts in and out of sobriety, flashing signs of anger and then compassion in a heartbeat. This performance should be noted come awards time but we shall see how that goes. On the flip side, Wallis is a breath of fresh air as Hushpuppy. She is precocious and learning the ways of the bayou when things go to hell and she is then forced to grow up a lot quicker than most her age. It is a deep performance that only comes along once in a while for someone her age and she makes great use of it, showing emotions that most adults can barely muster in a performance.
This is a classic film and despite it’s strangely obtuse title (the beasts are shown and it is for college film studies students to sit and debate over their use in this movie), this is a movie that should be seen and enjoyed by a much larger audience than it has been marketed too.
Overall Rating: A-