When not acquiring life's necessities, through fishing, small scale farming and salvaging potentially useful detritus, the populace enjoy a free spirited hedonistic lifestyle, fuelled largely by alcoholism. Nonetheless, despite a lot of chaos, everyone appears happy, if dysfunctional, with a desperate determination to continue living life on their own terms, whether when under threat from flooding or interference from wider society. Their passion and stubborn fight for autonomy is inspiring and will certainly please the free spirited among us.
The central theme of the film appears to be that those of us in mainstream society have lost touch with our animal selves. Something that is undoubtedly true. To what extent that is entirely bad is open to debate. The film also raises a lot of questions about self determination of small communities and the issues of responsibility and neglect, and where intervention is acceptable, if ever.
Wink, Hushpuppy's father, clearly loves his child, and his laissez-faire approach to parenting is born out of a desire for her to grow up being able to look after herself, rather than just disinterest. However, perhaps if he wasn't dying of a (presumably) lifestyle inflicted condition, she wouldn't have to. Also, just because Hushpuppy is super confident and independent, doesn't mean another child growing up in her situation wouldn't be majorly damaged, or for that matter dead, considering the huge number of daily hazards they would be living amongst. Maybe that's just survival of the fittest.
It is certainly true that there are plenty of children growing up in regular society who have been let down and hurt, both by their parents and the state. However I'm not sure if this is really an argument that vindicates Hushpuppy's situation, and I don't think romanticising squalor and neglect as a positive lifestyle choice is particularly useful. Ultimately we need to create a society where we all look after each other, where lifestyle choices are respected but not allowed to be an excuse for mistreatment, and where all children are loved, cared for, grow up super confident and have genuine opportunities in their life.
All that said, I don't know why I'm being so fucking judgemental, this film bears an uncanny resemblance to my life, had my flat just happened to have been flooded. Just ask my daughter, who's chewing on a shoe in the corner whilst I type this.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is out in cinemas Friday.