Despite a light, almost joyful opening, Beasts of No Nation is, unsurprisingly, no easy watch. It charts a descent into further – and constant – brutality.
Once bright but traumatised youngster Agu (a cracking debut from Abraham Attah) is coerced into joining the rebel child soldier battalion of the unscrupulous Commandant (an effective Idris Elba), the evocative music switches to interpret varying moods sublimely as Agu goes from witness to committer of atrocities. For all of its mesmerizing story (and acting) though, the film does sag sadly and become a violent slog through similar scenery and situations until its rather abrupt climax.
The cast’s intense young actors are to be applauded, as is the film’s stance as a thought-provoking (and crushing) piece of cinema – but twenty minutes fewer would alleviate violence fatigue.
DIRECTOR: Cary Joji Fukunaga
WRITER: Cary Joji Fukunaga, Uzodinma Iweala (novel)
CAST: Abraham Attah, Idris Elba, Ama K. Abebrese
SYNOPSIS: After the massacre of his family in an unidentified African country, Agu (Abraham Attah) finds himself joining a brutal rebel army of child soldiers, headed by the fearsome Commandant (Idris Elba), and beginning to lose both his faith in God and his humanity.