In the most brilliant performance of a young child actress I have ever seen Quvenzhane Wallis stole the show with her portrayal of “Hushpuppy”. This film covers some emotional territory related to the trials and tribulations of living in the remote and mostly forgotten outskirts of southern Louisiana. Hushpuppy and her father Wink live in derelict trailers patched with a menagerie of found wood and spare parts. They travel around in the back of an old pickup truck converted into a boat. Hushpuppy has a life most would find unimaginable and unlivable but knowing nothing else her blissful ignorance shines forth in her strength that she unknowingly possesses. Her independence is intertwined with her dichotomous need for her father’s presence. Wallis’ portrayal of Hushpuppy was both playful at times and tear jerking. The resilience of the folks who eek out their living on the fringes of society is captured in a voyeurs perspective of the impoverished but hardy residents of the constantly challenged Louisiana coastal parishes.
As the first film I have seen here at Sundance, I am excited at the potential this crop of films possesses. Last year we had a slew of amazing films one after another. This year I can expect nothing less if not more if “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is any indication of the quality of films that are awaiting the public.
Last but not least I would like to give my icon of the day award to the courageous and talented Quvenzhane Wallis who received a standing ovation on stage after the conclusion of the film. Here she is relaxing after receiving her accolades for her performance.