From a film distribution standpoint, Beasts of No Nation may be this fall’s most important release. The West Africa-based war drama – starring Idris Elba and directed by Cary Fukunaga – will be the first major non-documentary feature film to debut on Netflix the same day it starts a limited theatrical release. Several major theater chains are boycotting the film, seeing movies releases like this as being a threat to the traditional distribution model.
Now, what we’ve learned about Beasts of No Nation from both its initial critical reception and its newly-released full length trailer (see above) should make audiences even more excited- and theater chain executives even more nervous.
Beasts of No Nation had its world premiere at the 2015 Venice Film Festival and the initial critical reception was universally positive. Here are some examples of what’s being said about the film, so far (click the respective links for the full reviews):
Variety – Justin Chang
The unsentimental education of an African child soldier is captured with savage beauty and matter-of-fact horror in “Beasts of No Nation,” a tough-minded, tough-viewing chronicle of a civil war as seen through the eyes of one of its youngest casualties.
THR – Todd McCarthy
One of the many horrors of the modern world, that of child soldiers being coerced into violent combat roles by African warlords, is compellingly and convincingly dramatized in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation.
The Guardians – Peter Bradshaw
Fukunaga brings flair, muscular storytelling, directness and a persuasively epic sweep to this brutal, heartrending movie about child soldiers and a civil war in an imaginary West African country, based on the 2005 novel by Nigerian-American author Uzodinma Iweala. It is a tale of fear, degradation and abusive dysfunction – a violent and disorientating nightmare with a shiver of Coppola’s Apocalypse Now.
You can check out the official Beasts of No Nation poster, below:
The trailer, which follows a teaser that arrived in July, makes it clear that Beasts of No Nation is intense and a hard watch, considering that it tells the story of a very young child soldier. But it’s also gorgeously photographed and expertly put together – not to mention well-acted, even though several of the cast members are non-professional actors.
Even beyond the critical reception, there’s a lot to look forward to here. Elba is a dynamite screen presence in virtually every role he’s played to date, and Fukunaga is the sharp directorial mind behind the fantastic Sin Nombre, as well as the first season of True Detective, which most everyone seemed to love (and he had nothing to do with the second season of that show, which most people did not love.) Wars in Africa are a topic under-served by mainstream motion pictures, as such brutal and unpleasant subject matter is a hard sell. Then again, that’s somewhat mitigated here, as the film will be available in every Netflix subscriber’s living room.
Beasts of No Nation will start streaming on Netflix October 16, 2015, with a limited theatrical release the same day.