Saturday, October 24, 2015

Movie Review: Beasts of No Nation

I guess it's time to start talking about awards season with this new amazing film Beasts of No Nation directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga starring Idris Elba and newcomer Abraham Attah, the powerful child lead.  

Though I am glad Netflix is entering the arena of producing major motion pictures, I wish there was a theater near me that was brave enough to show this film because this movie deserves viewing on a large screen. As it was on Netflix, I often paused it and did other things before coming back to it because life is busy, not because this film ever lost my interest. The Revenant is going to have to be one amazing film to compete with this masterpiece.

This story needs to be told and I applaud Netflix for taking this brave step, not only in cinema distribution but in the topic at hand. Abraham Attah plays the young boy Agu and almost immediately reveals himself to be a talented, charismatic young actor. I am curious to see the behind-the-scenes to see how he handled such complicated shots and intense sets. I've heard some amazing stories about the filming but that the film fell heavily on this young man's shoulders and he pulled it off so well is really a credit to everyone involved and should signal a bright future for Mr. Attah as actor if that is his pursuit. His voiceover pleas to God throughout are chilling.

Idris Elba delivered another powerful performance, something we've all come to expect and possibly take for granted. At this point, it's his supporting actor award to lose and I'm not sure what other performance has generated as near enough buzz to compete. Surely not Seth Rogen but I should catch Steve Jobs later this week so we'll see. As the Commandanat, Mr. Elba has the opportunity for powerful speeches and intensely personal scenes and he plays them all like a true professional. I am rooting for him to go all the way with this one.

As for the plot, this movie is so harsh and unrelenting and Fukunaga's camera style captures every detail with his signature tracking shots and tragically powerful images that give you no place to hide from the violence that plays out on screen. This was a great follow up choice to True Detective for this director. 

I don't know what the reception will be for this film over time as it has taken such an unorthodox way to be distributed but I do believe this is the future of cinema and theaters will have to adjust. It is really telling that such a powerful film serves as the pioneer for the popular streaming service. I hope it does receive the recognition and accolades it deserves. 

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