DVD Movie Review: ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ (2012)

Beasts of the Southern Wild

This Oscar-nominated ‘Best Picture’ brings Louisiana bayou living from the perspective of a 6-year old girl trying to survive and overcome her fears. It immediately grabs your attention to the austere conditions outside New Orleans, but in the blink of an eye, the focus is blurred.

Rapid-fire, shaky, handheld camera shots will make some feel the nausea of an amusement park ride. The dizzying cinematography attempted to present the feel of a documentary and that’s this movie’s second fatal flaw; although interesting and compelling, this narrative could have been presented in a 15-minute news story vs. a 91-minute motion picture. The singular focus upon this one young girl–brilliantly played by Oscar-nominated and first-time actress Quvenzhane Wallis–prevents other character development and an investment into a bigger story.

One very important message this film did convey effectively is the notion that happiness is relative. This movie brings a strong performance and captivating story on one’s quality of life and the standards of comparison we make to others. However, the movie’s plot is as isolated and thinly developed as the bayou community it depicts. The shaky cinematography has left me even more confused on how this movie made the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar list.

Grade: C-

UPDATE: The film was nominated for four Academy Awards in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actress (Quvenzhané Wallis). At age 9, Wallis became the youngest Best Actress nominee in history.

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