“Beasts of the Southern Wild” is one of the most emotionally honest on-screen tales in recent years. “Beasts” presents an unapologetic look at the life of 6-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis), an unassuming heroine living in the Louisiana bayou. The film documents Hushpuppy’s internal hardships — her complex relationship with her ailing and pugnacious father, Wink, and her struggle to cope with barely any recollection of her mother. Externally, Hushpuppy must deal with the destruction of her home, the Bathtub, after a devastating storm.
Wallis’ portrayal is completely unpretentious and sincere to a fault. Hushpuppy’s ongoing narration captures the honesty of the film. The heroine manages to make unthinkably profound statements for her young self, but through either her grave predicament or undeveloped English, they are played off as typical.
Although Hushpuppy must deal with matters far beyond the scope of childhood normalcy, there is an awareness that she is still very much a child. The film masterfully instills this fact — a child-like innocence permeates the bleak exterior of the plot, somehow suspending the painful element of reality. It seems there are few things more sincere than the perceptions of a child.
— Isabel Jones
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