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Critic's Pick: 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'

With its powerful performances and voices so distinctive, unexpected and passionate, 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' reminds just how powerful cinema can be at its best.

July 26, 2012|By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
  • Quvenzhane Wallis stars as "Hushpuppy" in "Beasts of the Southern Wild."
Quvenzhane Wallis stars as "Hushpuppy" in "Beasts of… (Jess Pinkham, Fox Searchlight )

Sometimes, something small can slip away unnoticed. Don't let that happen with the stunning and startling indie drama"Beasts of the Southern Wild."The film stars tiny Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy, a 6-year-old who lives with her father (Dwight Henry) in a Louisiana swamp called the Bathtub. Hers is a life beset by storms — her father's failing heart, a coming hurricane, unrelenting poverty. So powerful is Wallis' performance and the artistry of the film itself that even the prehistoric aurochs that somehow rise out of the past are as believable as the muddy earth that Hushpuppy walks. This is a film with so much heart and such an authentic soul that any tears are well earned. First-time writer-director Benh Zeitlin and co-writer Lucy Alibar have voices so distinctive, so unexpected, so passionate, they have created one of those rare films that reminds just how powerful and how potent cinema at its best can be.

betsy.sharkey@latimes.com

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