A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Produced By: Amy Kaufman, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Daniela Taplin Lundberg
Written By: Uzodinma Iweala, Cary Joji Fukunaga
Running Time: 137 Minutes
There is a particular shot within this film where the child protagonist is laughing hysterically with a friend whilst surrounded by freshly gunned-down bodies. That image alone is one that lingers for a long while after the film concludes. This is masterful storytelling through image and a prime example of why Beasts Of No Nation is such an achievement.
Showered in rumours regarding awards consideration and significant buzz in light of its modern distribution tactics, Beasts Of No Nation has been a major presence on the radars of many.
A truly affecting, frightening affair, Cary Joji Fukunaga’s adaptation of the 2005 novel by Uzodinma Iweala is one that is not afraid to venture into the darkest, murkiest, most appalling chasms of an already appalling situation. War, poverty, desperation and corruption dominate Beasts Of No Nation, undoubtedly one of the most impactful pictures of the year.
Produced to be the first Netflix original film, Beasts Of No Nation spotlights African civil war and the unspeakable horrors bred from such events. Pinpointing the incomprehensible impact upon the young, the film uses Agu (played by Abraham Attah) to carry the story and drill home just how shocking a world he was tragically born into.
Where war films explore the violence, the terror and the inhumanity, seeing it all through the eyes of an impressionable, terrified and vulnerable child makes the experience insurmountably more striking.
Agu, an impoverished child is used to a life where war and threat transpire around him, however following a chilling turn of events, he finds himself captured and reshaped (or propagated) into a soldier under the ruthless guidance of Idris Elba’s Commandant.
Seeing somebody so young with their whole life ahead of them cross the deadly threshold and transform from spectator to first team player in the despicable game of war speaks volumes of how unsettling the situation at hand truly is.
Elba, in his Oscar-worthy commanding role encapsulates the discomfort supremely as his guidance and moulding of Agu makes him seem to be a respectful father figure, however what he is creating is simply another monster, brainwashed to kill.
A visually striking outing from Fukunaga, his third feature juxtaposes the beauty and horror within the various locations of the unnamed African nation in which it’s set. Vibrant, lively flora blended with crisp skies and even a deliberate shift in the colour spectrum, the striking imagery creates a brilliant sense of insecurity and instability when observing the images contextually.
Young Agu’s descent is difficult to watch, however through the intelligent storytelling abilities of a director who is anything but inept when it comes to carrying scene to scene emotion, the film is vastly compelling to watch unfold in that regard.
A grounded, harrowing picture that is one to prepare for, Beasts Of No Nation doesn’t exploit the subject matter or the subjects under the spotlight.
With a story addressing crushingly human elements regarding development, adult guidance and terror through the perspective of a child, the end result is thoughtful and deeply affecting on its viewers, but a prime example of a stellar visual storyteller.