A producer once said to me, “A screenplay is not a blueprint for filming a movie; it’s an argument for making a movie.” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” as a screenplay, however, is the best argument for never making it ever. Never before have so many proposals for hard-to-film images been assembled in one place. Case in point: Early on in the movie, Hushpuppy, the film’s 6-year-old protagonist, punches her father, Wink, in the heart. His heartbeat gives way to “an earsplitting CRACK of glacial ice,” and the next thing the reader knows, she is plunged into EXT. ANTARCTIC ICE SHELF – DAY. Before it’s over, this tale of a young lady’s coming-of-age will bring her face to face with a massive prehistoric Aurochs, but not before she journeys like Odysseus around the Bathtub, an imaginary world that might be post-Katrina New Orleans in effigy, but is ultimately so specific and personal that such metaphors are moot. The quintessential moment of “Beasts” comes when Hushpuppy declares to her loving but abusive mess of a father, “I’m the man!” So says this screenplay to a business as corrupt and negligent as Wink: There is still such a thing as art. Amen.
Craig Wright, creator of “Dirty Sexy Money,” made his Broadway debut this season with the play “Grace.”