Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Film Review: Beasts of No Nation (2015)

Beasts of No Nation (Review)
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...paints a haunting portrait of war and child soldiers..."

When his family is separated and killed, Agu (Abraham Attah) must learn to survive during a vicious war...

Beasts of No Nation follows Agu, a young child in West Africa. When war approaches his peaceful village, Agu's mother and sister leave for the capital while Agu, his father, brother, and grandfather stay in their home. Agu escapes as his family is slaughtered by the army, barely evading death. Soon thereafter, Agu is caught by the Native Defense Force, the rebels, which allow him to join as a child soldier. Commandant (Idris Elba), the battalion's leader, allows Agu to join under his guidance. Agu transforms from innocent child to trained-murderer as he adapts to survive. The film continues to show this heart-rending transformation until its bittersweet finale.

Beasts of No Nation is truly a fantastic war film. The film paints a haunting portrait of war and child soldiers — an image that will stay with you long after its ending. It's a film that depicts the atrocities of an often forgotten war. Watching Agu's change from beginning to end was absolutely devastating; watching Commandant's deceit and exploitation of these children was appalling. It's a film that makes you feel — we don't see that too often now. The film's war sequences are also tense and raw, balancing the film's drama with traumatic action sequences — in a sense. The depictions of violence are also uncompromising. I liked that about the film. The uncompromising approach allows for a very effective and unforgettable experience.

The acting is superb. Abraham Attah is magnificent in his role — very versatile and genuine in his emotion. Idris Elba is the man you love to hate. Elba plays a disturbed character oozing with charisma — exactly what you'd expect from a deceitful and powerful leader. Elba delivers one of the finest performances of the year. The film is beautifully shot, capturing the lush environment with great attention to color and detail. The music is also perfect in matching the mood. The film is based on a novel of the same title. It was written for the screen and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the director of True Detective (Season 1). Fukunaga crafts Beasts of No Nation with finesse. He handles the subject well without compromising, meticulously crafting each scene with a painstaking attention to detail.

Overall, Beasts of No Nation is a superb film. It's certainly a very disturbing depiction of war, but it is a film you should watch. It's a haunting movie, but with good intentions — and it's very well made. From the acting to the direction, Beasts of No Nation is a technical marvel. Beasts of No Nation is one of the best films of 2015, if not, it is the best film of the year.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some brief nudity.

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