The haunting southern gothic Beasts of the Southern Wild | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The haunting southern gothic Beasts of the Southern Wild

Benh Zeitlin's film portrays life on a Louisiana floodplain

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"The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right," declares Hushpuppy, the fierce, nappy-headed girl at the center of this extraordinary southern gothic. Played with iron conviction by young Quvenzhane Wallis, Hushpuppy lives with her father in a wild, ramshackle community, called the Bathtub for its precarious location on a post-Katrina flood plain near the Gulf of Mexico. As her remark might suggest, the movie throbs with a religious belief in the natural world's interconnectedness, and its setting is a poetic juxtaposing of industrial garbage and oceanic splendor. Writer-director Benh Zeitlin, who started out as an animator, drew on a close-knit crew of former New Yorkers who now call New Orleans home and have tried to combine film production with community education; this organic approach is evident in the movie, whose eccentricity seems to grow right out of the red clay.

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Beasts of the Southern Wild

Official Site: beastsofthesouthernwild.com

Director: Benh Zeitlin

Producer: Michael Gottwald, Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, Philipp Engelhorn, Paul Mezey and Michael Raisler

Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly, Lowell Landes, Pamela Harper, Gina Montana, Nicholas Clark and Jovan Hathaway

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