Two days before I left for Louisiana my friend Patti told me about “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” She said it was a film about a little girl named Hushpuppie and her father, Wink, who live in an unincorporated, unprotected community beyond the levee. All she really needed to say was that it took place in Louisiana–I was in the theater the next afternoon. She said the film was magical, but I had no idea just how much. Magical and fresh and imaginative and inspiring. During a season when most people are going to see the big, predictable blockbusters, a little movie like this is a refreshing change. I read somewhere that the writer lived in south Louisiana for three years while he wrote the screenplay. You can tell. Every scene, every line of dialog, every moment feels true.
I was so enchanted by the film, that when I got to New Orleans, I made a pilgrimage to the Buttermilk Drop Bakery, owned by Dwight Henry, the actor who plays Wink. It was on the other side of town, far from the French Quarter, still, I felt certain it would be crowded with tourists. “Have a lot of people come in since the film debuted?” I asked. Surprisingly, the young woman behind the counter shook her head, “no.” Too bad. They don’t know what they’re missing.
I have a handful of favorite films, each of which I’ve seen more times than I can count. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is at the top of my list.