Title: Beasts of No Nation
Director: Cary Fukunaga

Reviewed by: DYLAN GOWAN

I think this is a bit of an English Patient situation.

You see, when The English Patient came out back in the ’90s, it was all the rage. It got great reviews and even won the Academy Award for Best Picture. But my parents hated it.

They hated it so much that to this day if you bring up The English Patient they will go on and on about how boring it is.

While my reaction to Beasts of No Nation isn’t quite this strong, I can’t say I liked it.

Beasts of No Nation is Netflix’s first ever original film. It’s set in an unnamed African country (hence the no nation part) where civil war has broken out and there are armies of child soldiers. Agu (in a brilliant debut performance by Abraham Attah) becomes separated from his mother and later witnesses the murder of his father and brother after the national army invades their village. Upon escaping, Agu is later forced to join a battalion of child soldiers under the leadership of the menacing Commandant (played by Idris Elba).

I wanted to like this movie. I really did. There is a lot that is exceptional about it. I’m sure it will get Oscar attention.

The acting is superb. Again, Abraham Attah who plays the lead character Agu is a brilliant actor, not just for his age. Idris Elba is great as the Commandant who, while ferocious and manipulative, exhibits a subtle vulnerability.

It is also a story worth telling. It is a sad truth that in countries far from our own, children are not only forced to suffer through war, but to take part in it. We all remember the Kony campaign. And Beasts of No Nation does a stellar job portraying this sickening reality. The film is graphic, but not gratuitous. I hate to sound clichéd, but it will make you feel and think.

But for one reason or another I just couldn’t get into it. It’s one of those movies I can appreciate on a technical level, but it failed to capture my attention.

I can’t pin down quite why. Maybe it’s just not my thing.

But I really do think you should see it.