Netflix and Cary Fukunaga’s new film Beasts Of No Nation made its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival earlier this week, to a wash of rapturous reviews from the critical press in attendance. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian awarded it a four-star rating and declared it to be Fukunaga’s best film yet. Awestruck reporters praised the harrowing performance from possible-future-James-Bond actor Idris Elba as a merciless warlord who holds his territory in West Africa with an iron grip, as well as the skillful direction from Fukunaga, making his return to film after making a go of TV by helming the first season of HBO’s True Detective. Judging by the terrible beauty of the images on display in the trailer, Fukunaga’s returning to the painterly gorgeousness of his days directing the sumptuous Jane Eyre adaptation with Mia Wasikowska. Even so, he can still contrast the serenity of the jungle vistas with the hideous violence of the warlords who attempt to control it.
The true star of the film is newcomer Abraham Attah, who stars as a young boy named Agu. When militants invade his village and kill his father, Agu’s conscripted into joining a band of mercenaries under the employ of the Commandant (Elba). The film tracks Agu’s metamorphosis from a scandalized witness of inhuman crimes to a perpetrator, depicting the brainwashing tactics by which warmongers make children into killers. The film comes to Netflix as well as select theaters on October 16, though more early reports will begin to flood the web next week, when the film plays the Toronto International Film Festival. Elba’s been bogged down with the Avengers franchise and No Good Dead for the past year or so; it’ll be good to see him truly sink his teeth into a role once again.