15 January 2016

Beasts of No Nation Doesn't Do Its Subject Justice

Written and directed by: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Full cast and crew at IMDb

This movie is too stylish for its subject. Fukunaga might be one of the best visual storytellers working; he was singlehandedly responsible for the eerie, briefly culture-conquering appeal of the first season of True Detective. His facility with camera movements and his misty, washed-out bayouscapes elevated Nic Pizzolatto’s pseudophilosophical bullshit into art; take them away, and you get Season Two. 

But child soldiers in war-torn Africa aren’t akin to the quasimystical villains of that HBO drama; their experience is a real experience, their violence a real violence, and Beasts of No Nation feels afraid of itself—afraid of the inherent ferocity, even softening it with Dan Romer’s tender score, making it weirdly beautiful with moody slow-motion and colorful, striking compositions. 

The content instead demands brutal honesty, brutal, like Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left: cameras that can’t and won’t look away, because what they're showing is too serious to show any other way. Instead, Fukunaga presents it with the palatable outrage typical of Oscar nominees—and the movie got no nominations for the trouble. 

1 comment:

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