The set was nearly shutdown due to the BP oil spill
Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) and her daddy, Wink, (Dwight Henry) live in The Bathtub, a forgotten island cut off from society behind a wall built to keep the rest of Lousiana dry. Surrounded by water and abject povery, Wink raises Hushpuppy to be strong, independent, and to weather any storm.
Secluded from the rest of the country, knowing and feeling they are misfits, the folks of The Bathtub have formed their own society. Told from Hushpuppy's point of view, the universe is a magical place where everything must fit together just right, because if one thing falls out of place, disaster will strike.
When a mysterious illness causes Wink to go missing, only to show up a full day later stumbling around in a hospital gown, Hushpuppy's universe begins to collapse. Polar ice caps melt, waters rise, nearly drowning The Bathtub, and a fearsome trio of aurochs, prehistoric animals that would eat Hushpuppy for breakfast, are released from their icy prison. The fearsome aurochs make their way to The Bathtub.
Filmed in New Orleans and Terrebonne, Louisiana with a cast of bayou breed actors and shaky cam at hip height to capture Hushpuppy's view, Beasts has a gritty realism that is unexpected for such a modern fairy tale. Knowing nothing about the movie before the screening, I found that I had to remind myself that this wasn't a documentary. This blurring of reality and film was also largely due to the incredible performances of Wallis & Henry. Wallis performs with such stunning ferocity and passion you would never guess this 8 yr old wrapped on this role nearly two years ago.
Henry portrays a father who has to be tough as much as he would love to be tender. A father who knows he has to raise his child for the way the world is and now how he would like to be. At times he can be intense and frightening, but what is always clear is that he loves Hushpuppy.
What is also clear is that this film has a buzz that darn near unstoppable. I have never seen anything quite like this. The harsh organic elements of reality, combined with a child’s fantasy, and apocalyptic heroism make for a very daring film. Winner of six awards, including the prestigious Grand Jury award from Cannes and a score of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, Beasts is a film built for audiences and critics to love.
I would also like to note that although there is a depiction of a flood in Beasts, it is not Katrina. This film is in no way uses a recreation of a real life traumatic event in order to exploit your emotions in the Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close sort of way.