To Cary Fukunaga, the background is as important as the first floor. We have already grasped it in his Jane Eyre and also with the first season of True Detective, and now again in his Beasts of no nation. The jungle, the war, the villages and also leaders’ huge buildings are unbelivable places, not only sets where to make the actors move: they’re also settings that stimulate them, that force them to act, that make them feel awkward and talk to them.
With these premises, Fukunaga’s movie is not like the others, it moves in an higher and more refined level, it talks about a soldier kid that you don’t look as a child from the bottom to the top but that, when he grabs the shotgun, you look as an adult and so the movie becomes well-rounded, not a short one. Agu is at the beginning the stereotype of the happy poor who lives by his wits. Beasts of no nation doesn’t scrimp on cliché, to show us his quiet life before the arrival of the war. Once he lost all his family, the only choice to survive is to enter the army, that picks him up, lonely and lost, in the jungle. From that moment, the movie changes his register and pushes hard on the extreme sensations, in a great re-elaborations of the American cinema about Vietnamese war. Agu’s way at the service of the Commandant, his battalion chief, a gigantic charismatic pedophile, severe but esteemed, harsh and bastard, is followed with that chase of extreme passion which Hollywood put in scene while telling the Vietnamese frenzy. It’s not a rational question: it’s illogical, insane, crazy and irrational. It’s all full of sex, drugs, crimes: Agu is disoriented, his companions are horny pervs and the massacres in the villages are senseless. To Fukunaga, the war is that chaos he came to know at the cinema: it’s a mixture of imaginary things that he tries to re-elaborate in a personal way in order to divide pietism from rhetoric, to make a movie that is only a fiction, which doesn’t want to be realistic but that, while lying, tells the truth.
By Gabriele Niola
Photos: Alessio Costantino
Translation by Bianca Baroni
In collaboration with Badtaste.it