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Beasts of No Nation

MPAA Rating: Not rated
not reviewed
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
War Drama Adaptation
2 hr. 17 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 7, 2015 (festival)
October 16, 2015 (theaters and Netflix)
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Bleecker Street Media

child soldiers

civil wars

guerrilla warfare

refugee camps


rape victims’ stories

shame and rape

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

Featuring: Abraham Attah … Agu
Emmanuel Affadzi … Dike
Ricky Adelayitor … Village Constable
Andrew Adote … Ecomod 2nd Lieutenant
Vera Nyarkoah Antwi … Little Sister
Ama K. Abebrese … Mother
Kobina Amissah-Sam … Father
Francis Weddey … Big Brother
Fred Nii Amugi … Pastor
more »
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga—“Sin Nombre” (2009), “Jane Eyre” (2011)
Producer: The Princess Grace Foundation
Red Crown Productions
more »
Distributor: Bleecker Street Media

“Child. Captive. Killer.”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “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. BEASTS OF NO NATION is based on the highly acclaimed novel by Nigerian author Uzodinma Iweala, bringing to life the gripping tale of Agu, a child soldier. Newcomer Abraham Attah gives a stunning portrayal of Agu, while Elba dominates the screen in the role of Commandant, a warlord who takes in Agu and instructs him in the ways of war.”

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See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—Netflix’s first original movie follows an African civil war particularly one of its victims becoming a child soldier. This harsh but fierce reality is rendered in an incredibly way by director and cinematographer Cary Fukunaga (“True Detective”), alongside a great script and Oscar-worthy performances by Idris Elba and newcomer Abraham Attah.

First strongly highlighted in social media with Kony 2012, we are once again visually shown the horrors war children must face. With a strong spiritual theme all along the movie, the main character reflects to then questions God, confused between his Christian family teachings and the religious application by his new war commander.

There is lots of violence, swearing, drugs and killings, but the authors keep extremes off camera the most extreme moments, allowing a PG-15 rating. This movie is definitely not for the light-hearted, but I still strongly recommend for its high quality and awareness of war children going through those hard trials.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Nicolas, age 28 (United Kingdom)
Movie Critics

…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. …
—A.O. Scott, The New York Times

…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. …
—David Sims, The Atlantic

…This is a harrowing film to watch. In spite of the vibrant jungle greens and the searing sun, it’s as bleak a vision of modern warfare as has ever been put on screen. …
—Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal

…Hard to watch, impossible to forget. …
—Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

…Fukunaga imbues this study of ma­nipu­la­tion and manufactured loyalty with an unsettling degree of visual richness and lush natural detail. …
—Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

…A bold portrayal of a boy soldier in a brutal, bloody conflict, anchored by commanding performances from Idris Elba and 14 year-old newcomer Abraham Attah. …
—David Hughes, Empire

…Though Agu is trapped in a hopeless situation, this conflicts with the fact he still commits atrocious crimes. At times, it was difficult to determine which was worse — the acts themselves, or that a child was committing them. …
—Alice Vagun, The Badger Herald

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