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Child actors are a dime a dozen, yet Abraham Attah is something else.
He transcends the category and remains such a demanding presence
throughout the entire film, matching even Idris Elba's poise. His
character's transformation is just one of the remarkable feats of
storytelling that Beasts of No Nation graces us. A gripping account of
modern day war seen through a child's eyes, Beasts of No Nation is
easily one of the best of the year.
The first thing you'll notice is how beautiful the film is. The stark
landscapes of West Africa draw you in, and the color palette for the
film is quite something. Director and cinematographer Cary Fukunaga
makes sure you remember the reality of this not-so-fictional story,
paralleling Agu's family life and how his world was flipped upside down
when he joined a group of mercenary fighters. Initially, Agu has no
choice and uses them as an escape and a way to reunite with his mother,
but the ruthless commandant (Elba) changes him.
The writing is fantastic as you see the war through Agu's eyes, and
it's not pretty. This kind of situation is almost completely unfamiliar
for most audiences, and Fukunaga manages to supplement fear for grace.
He never lets us forget the harsh realities of war, touching on
familiar themes like family but going a step further by making it
personal for Agu. As the film is his story through and through, the
adult details of war are kept to a minimum. The audience is just like
Agu, unaware of exactly why there is fighting but rolling with it
because it's his only choice. There's no strategic battle scenes, no
planning on a map or signing peace treaties, as we are thrust into
moments just like Agu is.
When the violence does break out, it's brutal and harrowing. Young
actor Attah is ferocious yet sympathetic, and he brings these battle
sequences down to earth. The creative risks that Fukunaga takes with
these sequences might come across as pandering, yet they make sense
cinematically and come across as action poetry. There's a certain
lyricism to the war torn villages and jungles of the continent, and
it's beautiful and unforgettable.
There isn't much dialogue in the film, but when there is it's
brilliant. The unnamed commandant's ideology becomes clearer as the
film goes on, and it reaches a disturbing peak. Fukunaga contrasts him
with the initially innocent Agu and the two are at odds yet retain
respect for one another. There are times when Agu could simply point a
gun at the commandant and be done with it, but there's a humanity to
the film that respects all lives. War isn't pretty, and Beasts of No
Nation knows that. Yet this risky piece of entertainment remembers to
be a film first and everything else second. The result is a rhythmic
work of art with one of the best young performances I've seen.
Tags for Beasts of No Nation Full Movie
, Andrew Adote
, Emmanuel Affadzi
, Ricky Adelayitor
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