By the end of their regime, the Khmer Rouge had killed around a quarter of Cambodians under the direction of psychotic mass murderer Pol Pot. Their attempt to build a back-to-the-land "classless" society led (even at that time) predictably to absolute horrific disaster. Communism, as it always does and always will, failed, and at the cost of more than a million innocent lives - preventing countless future generations of Cambodian families.
Angelina Jolie's historical thriller, based off the written accounts of Loung Ung, who survived the "Killing Fields" as a child, presents a heartbreaking humanistic visual account of the atrocities from a child's perspective. It feels like a live-action nightmare, although it does seem to linger too long in some scenes, with particular focus on the facial expressions of child Loung Ung, played by Sareum Srey Moch.
The film has few faults however. Everything feels large and dangerous, as it should considering it is from the perspective of a child. The murderous fanaticism of the Cambodian communists is presented up close and personal as Loung Ung tries to survive the genocidal chaos of a totalitarian communal-system born straight out of hell. In this communist reality, everything and everyone has been rendered equally worthless, children are converted to mere weapons of destruction in the name of a socioeconomic and political fantasy that could never be achieved in practice - almost everything this regime touches dies or suffers greatly, from the people it enslaves to the very soil that lies under its bare soles.
You know things are really messed when you actually feel some relief when the main character comes across troops from the People's Army of Vietnam, who compared to the Khmer Rouge, felt like liberators in this film.