“Entirely elating, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD is one of the most striking films EVER to debut at the Sundance Film Festival (where it won this year’s Grand Prize), a poetic evocation of an endangered way of life and a surging paean to human resilience and self-reliance. Shot along the southernmost fringes of Louisiana, cast with nonactors and absolutely teeming with creativity in every aspect of its being, Benh Zeitlin’s directorial debut could serve as a poster child for everything American independent cinema aspires to be but so seldom is….The first few minutes alone establish Zeitlin as some kind of heir to Terrence Malick in the way he makes nature register onscreen. The images of thick green flora and fauna… back up 6-year-old Hushpuppy’s contention that she and her dad live in “the prettiest place on Earth.” At the same time, Hushpuppy and her father Wink live in filthy, jerryrigged quarters propped up on precarious stilts, and Wink’s boat consists of the rear end of a rusty pickup truck set atop oil barrels. The locals, who run the racial gamut, love to party and dance and are always drinking. But they possess the fierce pride of outcasts, holdouts and mavericks, determined to survive as they always have in a place where nature is partial to playing its whimsical games. And now they are all about to face a devastating storm….A movie that pulsates with the stuff of life.”—Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter. PG-13. 91 Min.
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