Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Scoot McNairy, Lupita Nyong’o, Garrett Dillahunt
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Synopsis: In the antebellum United States Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery.
Wow. I’ve just finished watching 12 Years A Slave and I have to say, it was everything I have read about and more. It is a special film. An acting and directing tour de force that you only see very so often. An epic journey that takes you to all sorts of emotional places. Man, this is not a date movie.
The funny thing is, I wasn’t filled with joy about having to watch this film. I thought it might be a bit hard going and depressing and, quite frankly, boring. I am more than happy to report that I was totally wrong, apart from the depressing bit! The film flew by in no time, mainly due to the extremely strong performances by Ejiofor, Fassbender and Nyong’o. Throw in the likes of Giamatti, Dano, Cumberbatch and Pitt as bit part players and you have a fine cast list.
I think despite Chiwetel Ejiofor being brilliant as the ‘hero’ Solomon Northup, it is Michael Fassbender who steals the show. He is so despicable, so odious and downright terrifying as Epps that you forget it’s Michael Fassbender and you just really start hating the guy. The same goes for Paul Dano and Paul Giamatti as well. They do a fine job of getting the audience to hate them. The craziest thing about it all of course, is that people like this actually existed! Actually thought and acted like this. Indeed, THESE people actually existed!
I’ve read that the cameo appearances kind of spoil the movie, but when they are as talented as the aforementioned actors, I don’t think that’s correct. I’ve also read that some of the violence is a bit much, which again I don’t agree with. I thought the whole film was pretty much perfect actually. Sure it was harrowing, but so is the subject at hand. And it deserves a film to be made that shows what it was like for these people. It was basically hell. This is a film that needs to be watched by everyone because despite it’s setting of over 150 years ago, there is still racial divides all over the world. Clearly not as bad as 12 Years A Slave, but still there none the less.
This is certainly not a film I will be watching over and over, purely because it’s a bit of an emotional slog, with few, if any, moments of light, but it is certainly fully deserving of the following score and I’ll be amazed if it doesn’t collect a host of awards, including Oscars.