"Beasts of the Southern Wild" Review

Title: Beasts of the Southern Wild
Director: Behn Zeitlin
Studio: Fox Searchlight Films
Genre(s): Drama
Rated: PG-13 (For thematic material including child imperilment, some disturbing images, language and brief sensuality)

Growing up we're told over and over by parents to enjoy our childhood, because you only get it once and it goes by too soon. I don't know why parents tell us this. I mean, it's not like anyone's ever gotten the message until it's too late to learn from it. Once in a while though, a child is forced to grow up faster than they'd like to. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is about a child named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhan√© Wallis in a stunning debut performance) who lives in a bayou that is simply known as “the Bathtub.” The Bathtub is one of those slum areas where people live lives that are uninspired, but lives that work for them none-the-less.
One day though a hurricane comes by and floods the area, making the place unlivable. This doesn't mean Hushpuppy has to fend for herself. In fact she has a dad who is helping her survive, but he tends to be unreliable at times. He is also a hiding something from her. She can't tell what it is, but she can see that something is wrong. There are other people in the area who are striving to survive, but resist getting help if it involves leaving their home. It's odd because all the adults and the kids seem to be on the same survival level. Age doesn't appear to be a factor in surviving these nasty turn of events, and they seem to be getting by on the luck of the draw.
The title “Beasts of the Southern Wild” doesn't refer to animals as some people might mistake. Instead, it looks at nature and forces beyond one's own control as the real beasts in the world. In a way, humanity may also be a beast itself, for people who harm others in the name of good. The reason a movie like “Beasts of the Southern Wild” works so well is because of the character of Hushpuppy, who is obviously an innocent child who is being forced to grow up sooner than expected. She didn't ask for a storm to come and destroy her home, but it's happened and now there's nothing left to do but deal with it
What makes the film shockingly touching is that the film doesn't view this turn of events as a bad thing. It doesn't even look at it with sorrowful eyes. Merely the film observes what is happened from a distance as something that was out of everyone's hands, but now is being handled in the best way you could possibly hope for. By doing this the film becomes sort of…inspiring. Hopeful even. There are many moments where I did tear up, but I think I smiled more than I cried. Things that happen in this movie are just a way of life and that's all there is to it. What “Beasts of the Southern Wild” perfectly conveys is that you can either let life get you down or you can rise above it. And rarely is that message conveyed in such an inspiring film as this.

Parents, despite the PG-13 rating there isn't much wrong with this movie outside of language. Recommended for ages 10 and up.