Beasts of No Nation ★★★★★

No one can truly understand the experience of civil war in Africa unless one was there. Beasts of No Nation could be closest we may ever come, and indeed would want to come to it.

Director/Producer/Cinematographer Cary Fukunaga (Jane Eyre, True Detective Season 1) carries us through the story on the shoulders of young Agu, who loses his family during a civil war and ends up with a band of rebels/freedom fighters who end up being as atrocious as the factions they are fighting against.

There are no winners in this story...simply the insight into how a child quickly becomes a killer. An insight without judgement...without taking a stance on who is right and wrong. Its a highwire act that not many others could navigate.

Fukunaga's stunning cinematography captures intense and insanely honest performances by newcomer Abraham Attah, who has to carry this entire show. Idris Elba as the commandant of the rebel group injects such charisma into the role, that its easy to see how a character like that can move young, hardened men to follow him. Idris' Commandant is a man of principles and intelligence -- never mind that he's a ruthless killer among other ethically questionable things.

The film is tough to watch. Its ruthless, violent, and heartbreaking. But so is the situation.