The Toronto International Film Festival came to a resounding close recently, bringing the last of its much-hyped films. They came from Germany, France, America, and elsewhere; they featured ensemble casts, critically acclaimed directors, writers, and A-list stars. Most of them will be on Netflix by sometime next year. And one of them is already there.
Cary Fukunaga, fresh off directing the entirety of True Detective’s first season, now brings us Beasts of No Nation, a twisted fairy-tale journey through hell and back. It premiered simultaneously in theaters and on Netflix last week, following its recent premiere screening at TIFF. Clocking in at over two hours, much of it depicting graphic murder committed by the hands of child soldiers in West Africa, the film is based on the book of the same name by Uzodinma Iweala. The narrative concerns Agu (Abraham Attah), a boy who loses his family to a new regime. He finds himself corrupted at the hands of the charming Commandant (Idris Elba), who helps him believe that by committing the violent acts the rebel army carries out, he is avenging his family.
The brutally emotional and physical warfare plays out across each child’s face in a haunting and unforgiving take on this story. Beasts of No Nation is not an easy watch for its length and visceral nature, but it isn’t supposed to be. In seeing the journey of a child soldier, we stare at the evil that humanity is truly capable of—watching it unblinkingly is a true test.
BEASTS OF NO NATION. NOT RATED. PLAYING AT KENDALL SQUARE CINEMA. ALSO AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX.