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Beasts Of No Nation – Review


Release Date: 16 October 2015 [USA]
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Writer: Cary Joji Fukunaga [Screenplay] - Uzodinma Iweala [Novel]
Cast: Abraham Attah - Emmanuel Affadzi - Ricky Adelayitor



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Posted October 22, 2015 by

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Beasts Of No Nation Review:

A young West African boy named Agu lives in a buffer zone with his family. His country is in the midst of civil war and its spread is soon total. Tragedy strikes Agu’s village and he is flung into the jungle alone, running from trigger-happy soldiers. He is soon captured by a rebel militia. Their intimidating Commandant spares Agu and sets about turning him into a child soldier.

Idris Elba, as the Commandant, is a towering and domineering presence. Like so many dictators and cult leaders, his charisma is commanding. His rousing speeches and chants before battle cruelly warp the young minds of his soldiers. He is sadistic, monstrous and certainly memorable.

More unforgettable still is the staggering performance by new comer Abraham Attah as the central boy Agu, a performance that would weigh heavy on the shoulders of any seasoned adult actor. Agu undergoes a transformation similar to the young boy Florya in Elem Klimov’s haunting “Come and See”. To compare the fun-loving and mischievous boy at the film’s beginning with the ending’s distant and traumatized child soldier highlights this transformation.

Beast’s opening shows you a tranquil settlement on the edge of doom. The war encroaches slowly and insidiously with waves of refugees, power cuts and the flash of distant artillery in the sky. Then it arrives and swallows the movie whole with little hope of that initial tranquility returning. Agu’s innocence is ripped away piece by piece. A bizarre initiation ritual sets in motion the gradual death of the child and the emergence of a child soldier, a lethal weapon.

Cary Fukunaga is director of photography here as well as directing and writing. His work captures brilliantly the lively colour of Agu’s pre-war town and the frenetic chaos of urban warfare. There are a couple of stunning and shocking long cuts, echoing Fukunaga’s incredible unbroken take from True Detective’s episode “Who Goes There”. While Fukunaga does not shy away from the horrors inflicted in Beasts, it is what he doesn’t show that proves most horrifying of all.

Beasts of No Nation is a harrowing and bleak experience and not an easy watch. It is undoubtedly a powerful depiction of similar crimes against humanity unfolding this moment in parts of Africa. If you must watch, watch it for Abraham Attah’s incredible debut performance.


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Written by:


Michael Keyes
Silences Band
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