I've heard more than one person say that they can't watch a movie like "Beasts of No Nation." It's a sentiment I understand. After all, who really wants to watch a movie about child soldiers recruited to become killers in savage African civil wars? But these things are happening, and the bare minimum I can if I want to respect myself as a citizen of the world is to watch movies about it, and fictional ones at that. This isn't even a documentary.
And if people can get past the premise, they will find themselves watching a gripping film. A tough one, yes, and one that might make your stomach churn. But it's extremely well made, with excellent performances from child actor Abraham Attah and Idris Elba, as the child protagonist and the leader who recruits him, respectively. This young child experiences a multitude of things, any one of which would permanently scar virtually anyone. And the film doesn't offer a contrived happy-ish ending to reward us for sitting through the suffering, which is one of the things I most appreciated about it. Because let's be honest; is there even a remote chance that stories like the one told here could end happily?
In this year of bickering about the whiteness of the Oscars, this film and its lack of nominations being held up repeatedly as an example, I can at least feel like I did my part -- you don't get much further away from white Hollywood and the stories it likes to tell than this film.
Beasts of No Nation
Action / Drama / War
Tech specs720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
2 hr 17 min