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Beasts of No Nation 

Wednesday, Oct 14 2015
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There's an old saying that there are no atheists in foxholes, but Cary Joji Fukunaga'sBeasts of No Nationsuggests that in the fog of war — particularly a guerrilla war whose politics are vague at best — God seems further away than ever. When war comes to the nominally peaceful village of a young African boy named Agu (Abraham Attah), his father tells him that "Whatever happens, this is God testing us," while he and most of Agu's family are being executed. (An evacuation car has a verse from Hebrews 12 painted on the back window: "Our God is a consuming fire." That he is.) After escaping the carnage and wandering in the wilderness, Agu finds a new father figure in the form of a guerrilla battalion's Commandant (Idris Elba), who teaches him how to survive and kill. For all its brutality, darkness, and ruminations about how a higher power can allow such things to happen,Beasts of No Nationis also leavened with intentional humor, and a stunning central performance by newcomer Attah. And it may not be an entirely fair comparison, but Idris Elba disappears into this fictional warlord in the way he never quite could into Nelson Mandela in 2013. (Also, Elba would be a terrific James Bond. You know it's true.)

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Sherilyn Connelly

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