Reviews of Netflix first Original Movie Beast of No Nation

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Beasts of No Nation is yet another opportunity for Netflix to cover itself in awards glory. Where prestige series Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards have both proven the streaming giant’s mettle when it comes to picking up Emmys and Globes, the Oscars race is still new territory. And the effort is paying off: having distinguished itself at this year’s Venice International Film Festival, it lands both online and in theaters today — a brazen move on Netflix’s part that resulted in a boycott from four of the country’s major theater chains and relegated it to a limited release. With powerful performances from its cast and surpassingly brilliant direction from Fukunaga, Beasts of No Nation makes art out of the kind of real-world brutality Western audiences are accustomed to ignoring. From the Verge

The movie has garnered attention for three main reasons. It’s adapted (from a novel by Uzodinma Iweala) and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, who helmed every episode of the first season of HBO’s “True Detective.” It features a magnetically evil, humanizing performance from the always-watchable Elba. And it’s the first foray by the streaming service Netflix into high-profile, Oscar-season, feature film distribution.  From the Oregon Live


Written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, “Beasts of No Nation” is based on Uzodinma Iweala’s harrowing, linguistically dazzling novel of a child soldier’s life. Mr. Iweala’s distinctive prose style is sometimes echoed in Agu’s voice-over narration, but the boy’s point of view is more immediately conveyed in the watchful eyes and sensitive features of Abraham Attah, the nimble young actor who plays him. Agu is numbed by horror and hardened by the brutality he has witnessed and perpetrated. The Commandant (Idris Elba) trains him and his comrades to be “warriors,” which is to say war criminals. While the film, like the book, does not turn away from the atrocities they commit, it also doesn’t allow you to forget that they’re children. From the New York Times

Elba (The Wire, Luther) gives the commandant a lethal swagger and inklings of a buried conscience that make his brutality even scarier. The Oscar for Best Supporting Actor should have his name on it. But it’s the remarkable Attah, whose young face reflects a hellish journey, that makes this fierce movie a blazing, indelible achievement. Read more:

“I hope soon we can start talking about how great Idris and Abraham are and what a great film Cary made and stop talking about how it’s being distributed,” says Jonathan King, the Participant Media executive who helped develop the film before the streaming service bought it. Netflix, Strategy PR, and Siegal all declined to comment. When it comes to Beasts, the best possible outcome for Netflix is that people stop talking about Netflix. From Bloomberg