Beasts of the Southern Wild catechistically instigates us to contemplate the origin of our existence. Is life an evolving conversation between past action and future possibility? Is one’s survival best informed by obedience to a natural order, or adaptability? Is modernity a gift or a curse? Beasts also wants us to examine what responsibilities we hold for self and others, and at what costs. What tutelage best prepares a child for impendent life after parents passing? What is one’s obligation to self and community? The film’s success lays in positing such weighty and philosophical questions, situating the audience as contemplative explorers in search of answers instead of passive observers. However, the way the movie itself unfolds and investigates these questions becomes its own Achilles’ heel; its exploration and exposition of them becomes duplicitous. The exploration and exposition are mired by unexamined stereotypes, entangled within meandering abstractions, and obscured by mishandled juxtapositions of past and present.
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