Look at 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' on paper, and just like it's fictional setting 'The Bathtub' (a swampy Bayou community the wrong side of New Orleans' levees) it shouldn't work.
When viewing their lives we see abject poverty, alcoholism, terrible hygiene, and a possible violent undercurrent. Just as those who must have looked at Benh Zeitlin and seen a first time director and a cast of non-actors and seen little to trouble the critcs.
In 'Beasts', just as our expectations of the characters are confounded and we see tenderness, love, pride and an overwhelming sense of fun, so Zeitlin has put together a truly remarkable film.
The film follows the community and in particular two of its more compelling characters Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis), a young girl left bereft by the death of her mother, and Wink (Dwight Henry) her wayward but well intentioned father.
Both performances are beautifully raw, funny and emotive, as we follow Wink, who knows he may be dying, trying to teach Hushpuppy how to survive without him.
Interwoven with this are Hushpuppy's musings on the melting of the icecaps, and what that may mean for their water bound community as well as an element of magical realism, following the 'Beasts', giant cow come pigs (dubbed aurochs by Hushpuppy) set free by the melting and rumbling across the landscape.
The Bathtub is then hit by a Katrina like storm, washing away the community and forcing all to protect themselves not just from the elements but from a world that doesn't wuite accept their attitude to life and way of living it.
Yet to describe the events of the movie is not to do it justice, the film is in many ways a poetic piece, humming along with a beautiful score and the lyrical witticism of its lead characters, every shout of 'feed up' at dinner time, drunken bar game and daring escapade carries the film through and spices up a poignant tale like the Cajun food of the area.
With its central sadness, hope, mystical ruminating on a very real situation and humour 'Beasts of The Southern Wild' takes its audiences on a fantastical journey through a special community, culminating in the matching of the movie's more magical elements with its real-life.
However just as the component parts fail to do the film justice, so do the cliches of criticism.
Let's just say that Zeitlin has created a very, very special film and the hype around this early Oscar contender is highly justified.
PHOTOS: Stills from 'Beasts of The Southern Wild'