Archive for January 10th, 2013

Hushpuppy, listening to a heartbeat.


I am delighted by the news that not only was Beasts of the Southern Wild, the wonderful film I reviewed here,  nominated for an Academy Award, but the amazing young actress Quvenzhané Wallis, who played the lead role, was nominated for Best Actress (the youngest actress ever so nominated).  The director of the film, Benh Zeitlin , was nominated for Best Director. The only disappointment is that the man who played her father, Dwight Henry, was overlooked, not receiving a nomination for his wonderful performance.

I really love this film. The tale of Hushpuppy, the precocious 6 year old growing up in the bayous of south Louisiana, is a wonderful, epic tale, immensely satisfying. I have watched it more times than I can tell, and it is always fresh. That untrained actors like Ms Wallis and Mr Henry were able to give such amazing and convincing performances is a testament, not only to their natural talents, but to the director as well. Even most good child actors appear to be acting, but this little girl totally inhabits the role. She is a force of nature, and I wonder what she will do next.

That said, it did occur to me, after several viewings, that there is something amiss in the film. That is, while Hushpuppy lives in a world of wonder, preternaturally aware of the “big, big universe” in which she lives, and congent of the Mystery around and in her, she speaks only of the Creation, never of the Creator. Indeed, the only line in the movie that references God is when Wink, her daddy, says something like “This is account of I’m sorry for a whole lot of things, Lord”, as he pours a clear liquor -vodka? moonshine?- for himself and his six year old daughter (!)…

In truth, children intuitively know the Creator, and a small child in the Deep South, even in a hard living, hard drinking community like the one portrayed in the film, would not only speak of God, but would almost certainly have been immersed in at least a residual Christian worldview.

Just a qualm, sort of like my questioning the believability of The Bathtub, Hushpuppy’s backwoods community, unmarked by violence or racial strife, in spite of the apparent endemic alcoholism.

That said, see this film; it is a gift.

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