Beasts of No Nation

by | Oct 22, 2015 | 0 comments

An Enlightening Film About The Troubles of Child Soldiers In Africa.

More films need to be made that make us socially aware of our world. Child soldiers in Africa have been a grave problem for decades, and the tide is not slowing down. Beasts of No Nation is able to open our privileged eyes into an unknown and suffering world, to maybe trigger us to do something to help. 

Beasts of No Nation tells the brutal story of Agu (first–timer Abraham Attah) a mischievous young boy who lives with his large family in an unnamed African country. The country is in a state of war between an army that has generated a coup in the government and the equally merciless rebels. The war soon comes to Agu’s village destroying his family and forcing Agu to flee into the jungle. Agu stumbles upon a battalion of child soldiers under the command of “Commandant” (a fantastic Idris Elba), who takes Agu under his wing and trains him to be yet another merciless soldier.

The film is extremely realistic, led by the brilliant Cary Joji Fukunaga (from the first season of True Detective) who was writer, director, and cinematographer. The film is extremely important in the film world because it is Netflix’s first original film. The script itself was so brutal that other studios didn’t want to make the film, but Netflix wanted to be a hub for artistic filmmakers and so they put together a marvelous team and produced this fantastic film. It is released in limited theatres and on Netflix’s streaming site at the same time, a tactic that is yet to see good results economically.

Fukunaga, brilliantly establishes Agu’s family and we immediately connect and like them; with the rest of his runtime Fukunaga studies and explores how one small kid goes from being so innocent and curious to an obedient and cold hound. The transition is slow and smooth, which makes it logical in psychological terms, and throughout we still see intermittent flashes of childlike behavior from Agu and his peers. Fukunaga also brilliantly handled the camera, taking such desolate jungles and villages and bringing about a horrible beauty from them.

In terms of acting I was extremely surprised and pleased with Abraham Attah, a young Ghanian boy who was cast when Fukunaga saw him playing soccer. The boy is deep and meticulous with his acting; he is extremely subtle and gives his Agu such a relatability and profoundess. Attah seemed to be more of a veteran actor than most of Hollywood’s actors today. The rest of the child actors and adults were fantastic as well, and most of them were taken off the streets. The big star here, however, was Idris Elba, he had the mentor-like character that is usually easy to play. As long as one has good diction and has done stage work, being a mentor in a film is easy, you just spew inspirational lines. However, Elba went beyond making his character flawed and with an unseen past. You could see his Commandant was showing a strong façade, but deep down his character was deeply troubled and confused.

In the end the film is an honest and unfiltered look into the troubles going on in Africa today, something that must be seen and be made aware to everyone in the Western world. The great filmmaking and acting are just more compliments that make this not only a great film, but a necessary one. 



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