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86

Universal acclaim - based on 44 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 248 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , , , , , ,
  • Summary: In a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world by a sprawling levee, a six-year-old girl exists on the brink of orphanhood. Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural world is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality. Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions. (Fox Searchlight Pictures) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 44
  2. Negative: 0 out of 44
  1. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Jul 5, 2012
    100
    "The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right," declares Hushpuppy, the fierce, nappy-headed girl at the center of this extraordinary southern gothic.
  2. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Jul 13, 2012
    100
    Shot in Louisiana, with non-professional actors and apparently set-designed from a junkyard, Beasts of the Southern Wild marks one of the most auspicious American directorial debuts in years.
  3. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Oct 3, 2012
    100
    Beautiful, funny, timely and tender, this is the American arthouse movie of the year.
  4. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Jun 22, 2012
    91
    It's undoubtedly something extraordinary: like a live-action Miyazaki film, with Days Of Heaven narration, set in a dirt-poor community at an unspecified time of crisis.
  5. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Jun 27, 2012
    88
    It's unlikely there will be a film as visually stunning or poetic this year - or perhaps any year - to rival Beasts of the Southern Wild.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Oct 19, 2012
    80
    Beasts of the Southern Wild is a vividly poetic and maybe even therapeutic response to one of the most painful and mortifying episodes in modern American history, second only to 9/11.
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jun 28, 2012
    40
    Winds up feeling like a form of emotional tourism. The images recall Terrence Malick, but the film fills "atmosphere" into dry narrative holes where a story should reside.

See all 44 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 48 out of 77
  2. Negative: 17 out of 77
  1. Jun 27, 2012
    10
    All I have to say is Give That Little Girl an Oscar. Her performance alone should be the reason why people need to see this film. She has a long career waiting for her. Expand
  2. Jun 29, 2013
    10
    It has been a long long time since a film made me cry and this one pulled it off despite my watching it on a screen in the back of the seat in front at 30,000 feet in the middle of the night. A moving glimpse into a world of poverty and stuggle that is (thankfully) alien to most of us. Expand
  3. Jul 23, 2012
    9
    I have never written a review but after seeing Beasts of the Souther Wild, felt compelled to write something. I am sure the cinephiles have heard the hype about the movie but to be clear it is totally justified. It is hard to describe as most say but the best way for me to describe it is a magical, lyrical and visually sumptuous film. The leading actress, Quvenzhane Wallis, who was only six years old when it was shot, is simply amazing in the role of Hushpuppy. Probably one of the best child performance I've ever seen. Academy, please give her the Oscar because I can tell you we will not see a performance like this very often. She completely owns this movie. Dwight Henry also another non-professional actor amazes in his performance. I understand this movie might not be for everyone but I suggest take ride and immerse yourself in the Bathtub because it is a very special film. Expand
  4. Jul 8, 2012
    7
    Beasts of the Southern Wild is shot through the eyes of a six year old. To Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis), the islands of southern Louisiana are a magical place filled with lucky people who do not have to live like cowards behind the levees and only get one holiday a year. Hushpuppy's voiceover reveals the island folk rarely need an excuse to have a party or take another holiday. If this film were shot through the more perceptive eyes of an adult, the audience I bet would get a much different take on things. Extreme poverty, alcoholism, and child neglect are just the first few overt issues which come to mind. It was a very wise move for the filmmakers to stick with the child protagonist. Magical realism is far more acceptable and preferable to an audience than what could arguably be termed child cruelty.

    Hushpuppy and her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), live in an area called 'The Bathtub'. It is not protected by the New Orleans levee system, people scuttle around from place to place by haphazardly crafted boats, and everyone expects that some day, the melting polar ice caps will submerge their homes and only the strong will survive. It turns out that some day in Beasts of the Southern Wild is now. When Hushpuppy first hears the thunder of the coming storm, she believes it to the be the sound of melting glaciers falling off of Antarctica. It is never mentioned by name; however, the storm appears to be Hurricane Katrina. Since the main part of her father's and his friends' days consist of drinking, there are no preparations for the coming calamity, just praise for the brave souls staying behind for what they claim will be a little wet weather and catcalls to those fleeing behind the levees. Where is mama in all of this? The idea of mama to Hushpuppy is and old, dirty basketball jersey she carries around with her and sometimes talks to. Every now and then, Hushpuppy thinks she sees mama when she glimpses a far away lighthouse or watches an approaching helicopter. Whether mama is dead or has just run off is another unexplained phenomenon kept by daddy.

    After the storm, Hushpuppy and daddy float around in their make shift boat which is the back of an old pickup truck with a struggling outboard hanging on behind it. They meet up with a few other survivors who immediately start engaging in activities they do best, drinking. However, this was not your regular storm. The water is not receding, the animals, even the fish, are dying, and whatever sickness daddy had to start with is starting to pick up speed. Throughout the ensuing scenes to remedy their dreadful situation, Hushpuppy keeps the audience involved with her prescient voiceover. A notable example is her comparison of getting old and sick outside of the levee wall versus inside of it. Outside there is savagery; the young will eat the old and move on. Inside, they plug you into the wall (ventilators). Whenever daddy feels he has been a particularly lousy father, he teaches Hushpuppy to do something such as catch a catfish her bare hands and be sure to give it a good punch when she gets it into the boat. There is also an odd side story involving long extent carnivores called aurochs. They represent the savage beasts who kill and eat anything and everything. The allegory is not readily apparent and its payoff is understated at best. This description sounds starkly bleak, which the subject matter surely is, but the film is very well put together. The scenery looks like it would after biblical destruction, the actors appear to all be locals and have the accents to prove it, and the music is incorporated effectively. The very young actress playing Hushpuppy is phenomenal. Perhaps a few years from now she will realize just how deep her character is written and how only a very minority of child actors could have possible pulled it off. Her father, while not necessarily a sympathetic character, was well cast and while is not particularly an ignorant man, is certainly a man set in his ways determined his progeny will follow in the local footsteps. Having respect for and maintaining the traditions of your place of birth is one thing, but more than likely, Hushpuppy is being set up for a life of substance abuse and unsteady employment. However, that is jumping ahead. Beasts of the Southern Wild is about a very specific time and place with thoughts only of the next meal, not tomorrow, and definitely not next month. The camaraderie between our heroes and the locals is fun to watch and seeing how they make the best of a horrible situation is quite creative when you see it as Hushpuppy does. The film is certainly worthy of the word of mouth it is getting because audiences have really not seen anything like this before. It is winning awards for cinematography, but the hand held camera borders on annoying at times. See it for the story, the locations, and the child actor. You will tell your friends about it the next day.
    Expand
  5. Feb 9, 2013
    6
    I was excited to see the movie, as I had heard so much about the magic of the film. I love quirky movies that attempt to tell a story via a road less traveled. I think Beasts of the Southern Wild made a brave attempt to present something fresh, and Quvenzhane Wallis as Hushpuppie is truly amazing giving a performance seldom seen at such a young age. When it came to the plot, I found it fell a little short, and I never fully grasped the metaphor of the beasts. I wanted to give the movie every opportunity to pull me into the story line, but I never was. I found the supporting characters less interesting than I had hoped. I felt as if I had watched a documentary on Louisiana poverty rather than the magical story promised. Still, I would rather sit through a movie that attempts to break the standards of stale cinema and have them fail, than sit through the same ol' same ol'. Expand
  6. BKM
    Jan 7, 2013
    5
    Granted, this is definitely a unique film but it's also a frustrating one. Quvenzhané Wallis is terrific as Hushpuppy as is Dwight Henry as her father, but the movie they are stuck with is an incoherent gumbo of poetic narration (the kind that Terrence Malick utilizes to far greater affect), symbolism and social commentary. In the end, it's difficult to tell what the movie is trying to say but that is not the same thing as ambiguity or complexity. Expand
  7. Feb 16, 2013
    0
    A terrible movie so boring and out of plot.Also clumsy at very best.This movie insulting the black people by indicating them as scavengers. People voted this move above 7 are depressed and sworn lossers. Expand

See all 77 User Reviews

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