Beasts of No Nation - Cary Fukunaga, Idris Elba, Netflix, child soldiers

Trailer 1:

Trailer 2:

When civil war tears his family apart, a young West African boy is forced to join a unit of mercenary fighters and transform into a child soldier.

Available in some theaters and Netflix on October 16th. Looks incredible, and the child actor, Abraham Attah, (who has never acted before) apparently nailed the role.

Unfortunately, for many people, Netflix will be the only option. Because Netflix bought the rights to the movie, and will air it on the same day as the theatrical release, most theater chains have declined to show the movie at all. Boo!

The script is based on the 2005 novel by Uzodinma Iweala

A movie about child soldiers is exactly the kind of thing that languishes in most people’s Netflix queue in favor of lighter movies. Not sure Idris Elba can bring it to the top.

Interesting about the theaters not being willing to show it.

Idris Elba and the guy that made the first season of True Detective doing their thing for Netflix? That sounds like a winning combo to me.

You’re right that it’s not going to get as many eyeballs as the Daredevil series, but I’m certainly willing to give it a shot.

Idris Elba is supposedly going to get a huge Oscar push from this one.

If you live near an Alamo Drafthouse, they’ll be showing it.

— Alan

This just hit Netflix. Haven’t seen it yet, but looking forward to it.

Looks great. I started it up and then stopped because I wasn’t in the mood for something so heavy. Maybe sometime later this week.

It’s not amazing, but pretty good. For some reason I thought this was based on a true story, which I suppose is something else–BoNN takes place in a fictitious country with fictitious factions, making the background behind the struggle a little difficult to really comprehend (plus other bits are in background radio broadcasts that aren’t exactly clear either). Sometimes the accents make it a bit difficult to understand some of the actors. Elba is a monstrous giant in more ways than one, and there are some pretty despicable things going on. The direction and photography is spectacular (especially during a sequence where the color palette shifts from green to red), and there are several now-characteristic Fukunaga long-tracking shots.

This is not a happy movie, though there are some elements of levity and some humor, but instead it’s a lot of compounded bleakness. I thought the ending was going to have a typically Hollywood element, but in fact it didn’t, so that was a nice surprise. It’s recommended but don’t see it if you don’t like heavy, depressing violent movies.

— Alan

Watched it. Visually stunning. Great acting. Not sure what the point of it all was. War is Hell? Brainwashing orphans and turning them into beasts is bad? I can’t really recommend watching this for any emotional or intellectual reason beyond good craftsmanship.

Pathos, bitches!

Aren’t any of those enough? What were you looking for in addition to those? The recipe for good chili?

I had the same reaction. “Well, it’s a beautiful movie to look at, and it’s very heavy emotionally, and it’s very well made. I guess if you like those sorts of things, it might work for you.”

Unless it glorifies the act of making children into soldiers, I don’t see why it needs any further intellectual message than “this is a bad thing”. I’ve yet to see it, but that complaint seemed strange to me. There are countless war movies from that past that are excellent, but don’t include any further message than “war is hell”.

I struggled with this when I posted yesterday. Why am I moved by and love Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now while this just left me flat. I think my issue was the lack of a good audience surrogate in this film. Without that, it feels kind of pointless.

This is not true for my viewing experience. Maybe it’s the kid’s narration that muddles things. It is very matter of fact, with no emotion or personality.

Agu’s not a good enough surrogate for you? Were you never a kid?

Jesus, this movie left me in tears.

And while it might not be a “real” story, that kind of shit is VERY common place. Just because a movie is fictional doesn’t mean it can’t accurately portray how things very similar to it happen it the real world.

It’s better that the story takes place in a fictional African country, too. If you were able to read a Wikipedia article on the country and the various factions that are fighting over it were you might think “oh, this faction are the good guys, and this faction aren’t.” Instead you the viewer are as confused as Agu is. He doesn’t know what the sociopolitical background is. He’s just a little kid.

Okay, since nobody seems to be able to comprehend how this movie could possibly be unsatisfying, here a the first three reviews that come up when I Google, “beasts of no nation review”

The movie is an effective nightmare, and a solid piece of filmmaking, strong enough to make you wish that it could have borne the full weight of the tragedy it set out to depict. - New York Times

Here, director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s studied, somber professionalism appears to have gotten the better of him. - AV Club

The ambiguity of the plot allows it to tell a more universal story, but the powerful vagueness hurts the film’s ability to do more than straightforwardly depict the brutal life of a child soldier. - The Atlantic

Agu’s statement in the movie’s second to last scene was particularly heart-rending.

In my case, I was just asking why you were felt the message it was trying to convey was a weakness, as the ones you mentioned have been a staple for many a great film. Not liking the movie is perfectly understandable to me, however.