Oscar Nom – Beasts of the Southern Wild

It’s award season people! And that means catching up on all the movies you wanted to see when they were first released and didn’t. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD is one of these movies for me. I had heard from friends and colleagues that it was lyrical and moving and the young lead, Oscar nominated Ouvenzhane Wallis (who was six when she filmed the movie now 9 and has set a new record of being the youngest actress to be nominated, beating out the 12-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes from WHALE RIDER) is a wonder.

Wallis is good – like a lot of child actors. For her first try at acting she is natural and believable. I think it is due to the close to the last scene in the movie (I won’t include any spoilers so I won’t ruin it for the three people that read this blog, including my mother) that cinched her the nomination, forcing out other actresses such as Marion Cotillard for RUST AND BONE and Helen Mirren for HITCHCOCK.

It’s the story of this movie that doesn’t bode well. Even the script is also Oscar nominated for best adaptation, it was convoluted and the expectation for the audience to fall into the category of suspended disbelief was over estimated. There is some fable-like visuals that are supposed to propel the story forward but stop short leave the viewer wondering whose story is this movie telling?

I will fully admit, when you wait to see a movie as long as I did this one, one’s expectations are likely to grow rigid. I thought this film would be much more whimsical and have more of a fantasy-like built world (like PAN’S LABYRINTH – a beautiful film by Guillermo del Toro – Netflix it today!), but instead it is chocked full of a lot of themes that didn’t have the opportunity to be fully developed, making the story unsatisfying on a lot of levels. This leads to the audience being introduced to a fantasy/fable story line, but with no guide to determine the correct course. I lose my geography in the story more than once, which results in me being totally pulled out and super reluctant to get back in.  The camera work is also a hodge podge of techniques and angles that didn’t add to the storytelling – particularly the hand-held shaky shots.

The first-time Oscar nominated director, Benh Zeitlin, shows great promise, and I think we will see more of him in the future as he hones his talent and decides what kind of director he wants to be. But this movie could have used a more seasoned director who has a healthier grasp on how to lead an audience through a rather shaky script.

What did you think of this movie?