First They Killed My Father, directed by Angelina Jolie, is about kids who are affected by war. The movie is subtitled with “A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers,” which instantly gives an idea about the film.
The movie, based on a memoir by Loung Ung, is set in Cambodia. Angelina has a deep personal connection with the Asian country. Maddox, her adopted son, is from Cambodia. Interestingly, the 16-year-old has been credited as the executive producer of the film that closely follows a child’s experience of the Cambodian genocide in the ’70s.
Loung is played by Sareum Srey Moch. The protagonist of the film is a young girl. Her father, who used to work for the previous government, fears that the present communist regime might react violently, if it comes to know that he worked for the U.S.-backed government. He pretends to be a manual laborer instead.
It was the time when Khmer Rouge came into power and became notorious for its violent strategies. Angelina Jolie showcases the darkest period in Cambodia’s history and how kids got affected by it. Khmer Rouge officials take the family to engage it in agricultural work. And, their suffering starts.
Angelina Jolie shows the horror of the controversial time in Cambodian history. Children, desperate by hunger, cook a spider and eat it. Jolie earlier took her kids to Cambodia and taught them how to eat bugs, including spiders. Her on-camera demonstration became controversial.
Angelina Jolie does not present a biased perspective in First They Killed My Father. Along with the atrocities of the communist revolution in Cambodia, she also shows how Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon ordered unofficial bombing campaigns. The movie ends with a message of forgiveness, no matter how difficult it is to forget the dreadful time in the past. As a result, Jolie manages to make a stunningly poignant film.
The Guardian is highly impressed with the movie. It lauds Anthony Dod Mantle’s cinematography. The visuals help Jolie achieve a meaningful narrative. According to the publication, the movie could be compared to master works of Vietnamese filmmaker Tran Anh Hung.
The BBC hails Jolie for bringing out the best in each performer in the film. Sareum Srey Moch’s performance as the young girl is extremely convincing. Viewers can identify with her confusion and sadness.
The Hollywood Reporter, on the other hand, finds a number of characters in the film as “superficial.” It is also not impressed with the fact that the movie is well over two hours in duration.
First They Killed My Father has got 78 percent positive rating so far on Rotten Tomato. The movie will release on Netflix in September 2017.
[Featured Image by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix]