Skip to main content

59th BFI London Film Festival | Thursday 8th October: Pick of the Day - Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation Idris Elba.jpg

In an unnamed African country riven by civil war, a young boy is conscripted into the ragtag ranks of a rebel militia in Beasts of No Nation, a searing movie based on Uzodinma Iweala’s acclaimed novel and directed with unblinking urgency by Cary Fukunaga, maker of the first season of True Detective.

Idris Elba is scarily charismatic as the rabble-rousing, ferociously unhinged militia leader, but the film’s most astonishing performance comes from newcomer Abraham Attah, his eyes going from sparky childhood innocence to dead-eyed horror as his child soldier, Agu, witnesses a series of atrocities, and participates in them, too.

Beasts falls off a little towards the end, but if the narrative does get a little fuzzy here, it doesn’t detract from the film’s harrowing depiction of the chaos and horror of war and the terrifying ordeals experienced by Agu and his fellow child soldiers.

Certificate 15. Runtime 136 mins. Director  Cary Fukunaga.

Beasts of No Nation shows in the London Film Festival at the Vue Leicester Square at 6pm & 6.30pm this evening and at 12.30pm on Friday 9th October. The first original film from Netflix, Beasts of No Nation also screens at select Curzon Cinemas across the UK from 9th October and is available on Netflix on 16th October.

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.