Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) – 3.5/5

Bizarre, occasionally baffling little film that’s hard to follow or make sense of at times due to the strange hybrid reality it seems to function in, though it has a lot of good moments here and there. It’s a very cinematic film, featuring many beautiful, dream like sequences that make little sense but are great to look at, and the acting is pretty dang great, especially from the little girl who apparently was 5 when they shot this. She’s not the greatest actress in the world, but at 5 years old, given the stuff she has to do, I’m willing to cut her some slack. I’m just kind-hearted that way.

The film is a bit too crazy for its own good, though. It’s very strange, too much so at times, making it difficult to follow, especially during the middle which seems to drag on much longer than it should. I’m all for a film indulging in its weirdness so long as it’s interesting, and it is here at times, but not enough to justify its length.

The movie seems to play by the rules of a universe it itself creates, though it often neglects to tell us what those rules are, or even give us a hint, leading to much head scratching and teeth grinding and other such general acts of frustrated confusion.  Though it makes for some cool moments, it’s also kind of annoying, frankly. Just tell us what the hell is going on, or why it’s perfectly normal here for **SPOILERS** the captain of a small boat to take four little girls he just found swimming alone in the middle of the ocean to a cathouse. **END SPOILERS** I understand that it’s supposed to be a metaphor maybe, but of what exactly? Or is it supposed to be taken literally? If so, huh?

Overall, I didn’t dislike the film. It has some really great moments, some “swell” acting, and, given the low-budget and ambitious story, looks great. It reminded me very much of a Michel Gondry film; same low-budget, hand-held, whimsical feel, but less polished narratively. It’s a good start, but, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this, a little too out there for its own good. Still worth watching, just hard to stay with.

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