Elba and Attah Provide Exquisite Performances in “Beasts of No Nation”

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In a time where movie theaters are filled with sequels to large film franchises and adaptations of popular young adult novels, Netflix has quietly released one of the best films of the year, “Beasts of No Nation.”

In this film, released exclusively on Netflix on 16 Oct., Golden Globe-winner and Emmy-nominated actor Idris Elba plays a military leader in Africa who commands an army of child soldiers in the rebellion against the current government. Abraham Attah plays Agu, the main character, who is an orphan boy who was seduced to join this army and the film follows his journey, both physically and emotionally, throughout his time with the militia.

"Beasts of No Nation" captures the sheer brutality of war. (Photo courtesy of flickr)

“Beasts of No Nation” captures the sheer brutality of war. (Photo courtesy of flickr)

Both Elba and Attah give exceptional performances in the film, capturing both the hearts of the viewers and the emotional impact this ordeal has on the people it affects.

The film does not shy away from the dark, gritty reality of civil war in Africa and the horrors of child soldiers. Between direct views of children killing civilians and horrific (thankfully off-camera) non-combat encounters between the soldiers and their commander, the film sheds light on the terrible events that take place in Africa every day.

One interesting aspect of the film is the ambiguity of the situation that it portrays. The story takes place in a country that is unnamed and follows a civil war between the rebels and the government. (Initials are provided for each side as if they had actual names but the words for what they stand for are never provided.)

Elba’s character, the commander of the child army, goes by Commandant. No other name is given for him, although to most he resembles the infamous Joseph Kony who was brought to the forefront of American culture with the Kony 2012 movement.

Even though most people these days are focused on the threat of ISIS in America and around the world, as well as the Syrian civil war and Boko Haram in Nigeria, other atrocities are still taking place. “Beasts of No Nation” calls attention to these atrocities and leaves an impression on the viewer that they will not soon forget.

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