In the Bathtub, somewhere in Louisiana, we discover the little six year old girl Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) and her father Wink (Dwight Henry). They live together in the bayou full of waste, dirt, and trash. With the openning shot we understand that their state of living is like animals and they are surrounded by them. The chemistry between the girl and the father is brutish and he raises her to become strong and survive. Paralleled with the global warming of the entire planet and the revival of prehistoric creatures that were caught in the ice thousands of years ago, we are confronted with Hushpuppy’s vision of her world and her survival. This is clearly a child’s vision of her surroundings and her life. At some point, there are so many plot elements thrown in the air that it is possible to have an endless number of readings of the movie.
This is not a visually appealing film and except the little Hushpuppy it is very hard to actually care for the characters of the story. On the other hand, knowing that the filmmakers got on location to places where the Hurricane Katrina destroyed the homes of many people is gut renching to watch that some lost everything. However, I did not particuarly excited about the directing of Benh Zeitlin especially knowing that he earned a Best Director Academy Awards nomination. Having not seen a lot of 2012 releases may play against me but I could name some other more worth deserving works by directors. With that said, one must not pass under the radar the presence of first timer Quvenzhané Wallis as the six years old Hushpuppy. She does not play Hushpuppy, she is this little girl. Her voice over is one of the best use of the technique even if it’s normally more annoying than helping a film her natural narration and naive perceptions carries the film. Actually, without Wallis there is no film.
Given that the movie earned that much recognition at the Oscars nominations I must admire its audacity and the fact that it is the first film by director Benh Zeitlin who made an overall good job and had a superb cast to support his beast of a film. It is a complex story and it might have had it’s faults here and there, and here again but it surely creates a reaction to its viewers and believe me it is always a good thing.