Festival Review: Beasts Of No Nation (2015)

Beasts Of No Nation

A violent exploration of civil war in West Africa, Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Beasts Of No Nation is a powerful portrait of a continent thrown into darkness.

The Dogs of War

by Alexa Dalby

Beasts Of No Nation

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

After Liz Garbus’ What Happened, Miss Simone? Netflix return to the festival circuit with Beasts Of No Nation – a home-grown production which will get a brief cinema release in the US and UK before its online outing. Cary Joji Fukunaga’s film is emotionally battering, a violent adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala’s novel. It’s the story of a small boy in an unnamed West African state caught up in a savage and horrific civil war he’s too young to understand. Agu (a fantastic debut for Abraham Attah) is orphaned and found by rebels, who train him to become a boy soldier in their bullied, drug-fuelled makeshift battalion. Idris Elba creates a surprisingly nuanced character in the Commandant. Brutal and charismatic, he’s a kind of surrogate father to the Lost Boys and, it’s hinted, sexual abuser, who demands absolute loyalty. There are numerous bloody battles and multiple killings as the battalion roams the countryside: it’s totally male orientated, with women’s roles only rape victims or prostitutes. Though somewhat overlong, it’s a very powerful film that graphically recreates real-life experiences.

Beasts Of No Nation is now showing at the London Film Festival

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