Angelina Jolie has pretty clearly established her narrative interests at this point, and it’s not exactly a buffet table of whimsy and joy. With the exception of the hilariously portentous couples vanity project By The Sea, her work as a director has overwhelmingly focused on the human cost of war. From the pedantic message-movie moralizing of In The Land Of Blood And Honey, to the endless flesh-mortification display that sunk the stranger-than-fiction story of Unbroken, her cinematic passion projects have largely aligned with her offscreen humanitarian works. And now, she’s adding a new chapter to this ongoing project of shining a light upon horrifying wartime ordeals, with the new Netflix film First They Killed My Father.
Based on the memoir by Loung Ung, the Cambodian author and activist who survived the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime, the movie follows Ung’s journey as a young girl during those years from 1975-’78. Ung family struggles to stay together through the massacres, the child soldier recruitment, and the untold psychological toll on the citizens of the country throughout that period. Hopefully, Jolie’s improved her way with a narrative, though the film will almost certainly look gorgeous, thanks to cinematography by Oscar winner and longtime Danny Boyle collaborator Anthony Dod Mantle. Still, just from a audience perspective, the subject matter ensures this won’t be an easy watch, even secure in the knowledge that Jolie didn’t actually psychologically mess with Cambodian child actors during the audition process. First They Killed My Father debuts on the streaming service September 15.