Friday, 30 October 2015

REVIEW - BEASTS OF NO NATION (CARY FUKUNAGA)


No nation, no responsibility. The temptation to accuse first world filmmakers of exploiting third world problems must be avoided; Beasts of No Nation is a problem of its own kind, and of their making. In establishing its specific setting as an unspecified one, Cary Fukunaga's film glides through its subject of the experiences of child soldiers in an indistinct haze. Fukunaga's direction both reflects and encourages this, and in so doing neglects to depict these experiences with any sense of clarity. They occur, and that's all there is to it; the film is related to us from the perspective of a child soldier himself, and such inconclusive objectivity would seem fitting when considered thus, but the filmmaking is comprehensively from the perspective of an adult artist. Fukunaga finds many impressive techniques with which to relate these experiences, though fails to find any means of relating the technique to them, thereby negating any potential power inherent in the material. Beasts of No Nation strives so hard to be an indelible, immersive experience for its viewer that it ends up a rather distancing one, in spite of its basic technical prowess and of its fine performances. You can feel the cogs turning, spinning a story that resembles the truth, but is too concerned with establishing universality to acknowledge the real truth in such an endeavour: universality is achieved through utmost specificity and honesty, neither of which Beasts of No Nation possesses.