Film Review: Beasts of No Nation


Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation is a powerful drama. Beautifully shot, the film is compelling viewing.

Agu is a young boy living with his family in an unnamed African country. When war comes to the region, Agu’s family attempt to flee. When Agu is left behind, he is enlisted as a child soldier…

Beasts of No Nation combines fantastic direction, good storytelling and convincing performances. The subject matter is a serious one, and is treated with the reverence it deserves. The film is convincing in that the story it tells could be based on actual events. Director, writer, producer and cinematographer Cary Fukunaga delivers a narrative that is believable and relevant. Fukunaga shoots the film beautifully; Beasts of No Nation is a film that should be seen on the big screen.

Seeing the action unfold through the eyes of Agu, the audience is positioned with an innocent point of view. Beasts of No Nation‘s early scenes are important in establishing Agu’s family life, particularly his lively companionship with his older brother. This introduction makes what is to follow feel even more brutal. Agu has a regular upbringing and is from an ordinary family, giving the sense that what happens to him could happen to any child.

Beasts of No Nation is a journey of a loss of innocence. The descent experienced by Agu is tragic, yet the film avoids utter bleakness. Age’s story could have been overplayed in terms of emotion, but it is carefully crafted in Fukunaga’s safe hands. The Commandant is a powerful force in Beasts of No Nation; it is clear why he holds such sway over his young army. The relationship between Agu and Strika works well is exhibit flashes of childhood amidst the violence and fear. Abraham Attah delivers a convincing performance as Agu. He is ably assisted by Idris Elba in the role of the Commandant.

Beasts of No Nation exhibits Cary Fukunaga’s cinematic flare. It is a most worthwhile watch.

Beasts of No Nation is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2015.