Monday, September 17, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Have you seen this film?

We went on Saturday. I think it's only showing here for a week, so when we noticed the poster, Josh and I changed all our plans and showed up at the theater for it (and sat in a cavernous room with I think only five other souls).

Beasts of the Southern Wild is kind of about Hurricane Katrina--at least, it calls up associations. It's about a storm, and people making lives in an out-of-the-way place, and family and love. It's about actions and reactions and consequences, the vivid imaginations of children, the exceptional beauty running rampant in surprising places.

The film could easily devolve into a sort of slumming pop sociology, as it levels its gaze on some not very pretty elements of rural poverty--like dirt. But doesn't quite fall into that trap of inviting viewers to contemplate how those people live. It resists such a temptation (1) through its moments of rare and terrible beauty; (2) through its emphasis on the dignity and audacity of its characters; and (3) through its fanciful elements (those beasts of the title) that disrupt its ostensible realism.

This was not an easy film to watch, but it was a good film to watch. I spent probably a third of it with tears rolling down my cheeks--at points because of its overwhelming portrayal of wonder and loveliness, and points because of the sadness of its story.

I do recommend it.

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