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Beasts Of No Nation Review - AVClub

AVClub: Boy soldiers chop heads under the command of a Fagin-like child molester, living like zombies and snorting cocaine cut with gunpowder, convulsing in the fetid standing water of a red clay trench—each horror rendered as a slow-mo shot where the sound gradually drops out or as a long Steadicam take, intense and disturbing only in italics or quotation marks. Here, director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s studied, somber professionalism appears to have gotten the better of him, because though Beasts Of No Nation is a long-in-the-works passion project that Fukunaga wrote, produced, and shot himself, it still plays an awful lot like an impersonal calling-card technical exercise—all unreturned stares and glaciers of Tangerine Dream-esque synth, hedged on viewer identification with a cast of non-professional child actors who don’t do much but give blank looks that can be projected with the trauma of civil war. And yet it doesn’t brush off easily.

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