Beasts of No Nation tells the tale of Agu, a child forced to flee his home after his family is brutally killed by rebel soldiers. He is caught and converted into a child soldier in the Commandant’s (Idris Elba) growing army. The film is based on the 2005 award-winning book of the same name by Uzodinma Iweala.
There is a heartbreaking coming of age story at the heart of this film. Agu starts off as happy child, even despite times being tough for him and his family during the early part of the war. When soldiers come to his village, and he is subsequently separated from his mother and younger brother and sister on top of witnessing the murder of his father and older brother, he has no choice but to fend for himself. Despite all that he is forced to do as part of the NDF army, his motivations are always clear: to be on the winning side of the war so that he can he can return to his mother.
Fans of the original work won’t be too disappointed. Beasts of No Nation does not stray too far from it, albeit with slightly less violence and swearing. The only clear change is the ending, but it works with the direction famed director Cary Joji Fukunaga chose to take the film.
Elba is truly terrifying as rebel leader, leading his army not with fear but with cult-like adoration. At times, he is cold and calculated but often, he is more of a father to these seemingly lost children. Played with that balance is difficult to do, but Idris Elba does so brilliantly! Newcomer Abraham Attah also wows in this debut role. Along with many of the child actors used in this film, he gives a performance well beyond his years.
Beasts of No Nation
The only thing more impressive than the acting is the cinematography. Visually stunning, and it only gets better as the film progresses.