“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.
The haunting southern gothic Beasts of the Southern Wild
Benh Zeitlin’s film portrays life on a Louisiana floodplain