In Theaters Today: 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' Is This Year's Greatest Discovery

In Theaters Today: 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' Is This Year's Greatest Discovery

Jun 27, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild is an intimidating film to write about because it's so ambitious, so wildly imaginative and so many things at once that you never really know where to begin. How about we begin with it being the best film this year's Sundance Film Festival has to offer, or with it being the most ambitious piece of independent filmmaking I've ever seen at the festival. Sounds crazy and hyperbolic to say (and write) those things, but it's true. I was still wiping away tears 20 minutes after this film ended. It's emotionally devastating and hopeful at the same time; both beautiful and ugly, and angry and sad. It's the kind of film you experience instead of watch -- the kind of filmmaking you long to discover at a film festival. Beasts of the Southern Wild is independent cinema in its purist form, and if you let it consume you, the film may even change your life.

Featuring all nonactors, including one of the most striking debut performances you'll ever see from newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis , the film is set in a place called "The Bathtub," down at the very bottom tip of the Southern Delta on the other side of the levees. At one point, prior to Hurricane Katrina, this land was occupied by a bustling community. And then the rains came. Wiping out all but a small strip of land, many occupants of "The Bathtub" refused to leave, choosing to live by their own rules and traditions in this place cut off from the rest of society.

The results are this mystical, magical land full of wild prehistoric beasts, organic cures for any ailment, adults and children so far removed from civilization it's as if they've created their own universe stuck somewhere between heaven and hell. Whatever story there is follows six-year-old Hushpuppy (Wallis) and her father (Dwight Henry) as they navigate their dysfunctional way through the good, bad and evil that surrounds every square inch of their existence. As Hushpuppy's father grows sicker and sicker, refusing to seek proper treatment for his ailments, she begins a mental, physical and spiritual journey to learn more about her world, her life, and her future.

Most of the film is set on water, in and around shacks, filmed in the very locations its characters are supposed to live. This wasn't a movie shot on a lot in Los Angeles; it was a passion project years in the making, utilizing all local nonactors to add a level of authenticity you rarely see in any movie. Writer-director Benh Zeitlin said he wanted his crew to experience what the characters were experiencing, which is why they wrote the script and shot the film on the same swampy land where it's set. If the characters were in water, they were in water. If they were up to their knees in mud, the crew was up to their knees in mud. This wasn't just a group of people making a film, it was a group of people trying to make sense of the cards they were dealt by turning them into a spiritual and emotional art piece about love, loss, hope and forgiveness.

Note: This review originally ran on 1/24/12 as part of our Sundance Film Festival coverage.

Beasts of the Southern Wild hits theaters today. Here are a list of theaters where you can see it. We strongly recommend watching this in a theater if you can.

6/27/12

NEW YORK
Lincoln Plaza, New York, NY
Sunshine Cinemas, New York, NY
 
LOS ANGELES
The Landmark Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Arclight Hollywood, Hollywood, CA
 
7/4/12
NEW ORLEANS
Elmwood Palace, Harahan, LA
Prytania Theatre, New Orleans, LA
Canal Place Theatre, New Orleans, LA
 
7/6/12
BOSTON
Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA
 
WASHINGTON, DC
Bethesda Row Cinema, Bethesda, MD
E-Street Cinema, Washington, DC
 
CHICAGO, IL
Century 12 Evanston, Evanston, IL
Century Centre Cinema 7, Chicago, IL
 
DALLAS/FORT WORTH, TX
Angelika Mockingbird Statino, Dallas, TX
Angelika Plano Film Center, Plano, TX
 
LOS ANGELES, CA
Playhouse Art Cinema, Padasdena, CA
Arclight Beach Cities, El Segundo, CA
Arclight Sherman Oaks, Sherman Oaks, CA
University Town Center, Irvine, CA
 
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Embarcado Art Cinema, San Francisco, CA
 
More screening dates on the next page.
 
 
7/13/12
ATLANTA, GA
Tara, Atlanta, GA
 
BOSTON, MA
West Newton Cinema, W Newton, MA
Hollywood Hits, Danvers, MA
Dedham Community Theater, Dedham, MA
 
HARTFORD/NEW HAVEN, CT
Palace 17, Hartford, CT
Criterion Cinemas, New Haven, CT
 
BALTIMORE, MD
Charles Theatre, Baltimore, MD
 
WASHINGTON, DC
Shirlington, Arlington, VA
AFI Silver Theatre, Silver Springs, MD
Cinema Arts, Fairfax, VA
 
NEW YORK, NY/CT/NJ/PA
Bronxville, Bronxville, NY
Manhasset Tri, Manhasset, NY
Clairidge, Montclair, NJ
Bethel Cinema, Bethel, CT
Garden Cinema, Norwalk, CT
Cinema Arts, Huntington, NY
Jacob Burns Film Center, Pleasantville, NY
BAM Rose Cinemas, Brooklyn, NY
Kew Gardens Cinemas, Kew Gardens, NY
Malverne Cinema, Malverne, NY
Avon, Stamford, CT
 
PHILADELPHIA, PA
Ritz 5, Philadelphia, PA
 
CHICAGO, IL
River East 21, Chicago, IL
Renaissance Place Cinema, 5, Highland Park, IL
 
AUSTIN, TX
Alamo/South Lamar Cinema, Austin, TX
Violet Crown Cinemas, Austin, TX
Arbor Cinemas, Austin, TX
 
HOUSTON, TX
River Oaks Village Cinemas, Houston, TX
 
MINNEAPOLIS, MN
Lagoon Theater, Minneapolis, MN
 
LOS ANGELES, CA
Claremont Cinema, Claremont, CA
Monica Art Cinema, Santa Monica, CA
Fallbrook Theatre, West HIlls, CA
Westlake Village Art Cinema, Westlake Village, CA
 
PALM SPRINGS, CA
Cinemas Palme d'Or, Palm Desert, CA
 
SAN DIEGO, CA
La Jolla Village Cinema, La Jolla, CA
Hillcrest Art Cinema, San Diego, CA
 
SANTA BARBARA, CA
Plaza De Oro, Santa Barara, CA
 
DENVER, CO
Mayan, Denver, CO
 
PHOENIX, AZ
Harkins Camelview, Scottsdale, AZ
 
SEATTLE/TACOMA, WA
Lincoln Square, Bellevue, WA
Egyptian Cinema, Seattle, WA
 
MONTEREY/SALINAS, CA
Osio Plaza, Monterey, CA
Nickelodeon, Santa Cruz, CA
 
PORTLAND, OR
Cinema 21, Portland, OR
 
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
CineArts @ Pleasant Hill, Pleasant Hill, CA
CineArts @Santana Row, San Jose, CA
California, Art Theatre, Berkeley, CA
Aquarius Art Cinema, Palo Alto, CA
Rafael, San Rafael, CA
 

 

 

blog comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement

Facebook on Movies.com

The Burning Question

In the movie Rob the Mob, what is the name of the character played by Yul Vázquez

  • Groot
  • Bia
  • Kisha
  • Vinny
Get Answer Get New Question

Vinny