My last film review for Road to the Oscars is the Best Picture heavyweight, 12 Years a Slave, that has been nominated for a staggering nine Academy Award nominations. So hit the jump to find out what I think:
What’s it About?
Born free black man, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) lives a solitary life in New York, working as a carpenter with his wife and children. However, after being tricked and drugged by two men, Northup awakes to find himself being sold to slavery and finds himself subjected to all of the horrors that come with it, especially when he is placed into a cotton plantation run by the ruthless Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), who has a fascination with one of his slaves, Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o)
After the first 10 minutes we get a sense of what this story entails for us as we are fully emerged into the despicable world of slavery, with Steve McQueen giving us the full graphic and gory experience. I mention McQueen outright because he truly is the captain of the ship in this film, he directs with such precision that there isn’t a moment where a scene feels out of place; every scene has a specific reason for being there and everything down from the sound editing to the cinematography feels carefully and thoughtfully handled.
It’s safe to say that this film would be nothing without the incredible talents of Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Solomon Northup in a way that keeps you invested into the story at hand. He really conveys a sense of desperate survival that isn’t subjected to the typical “Hollywood” style treatment, his entire performance feels grounded. The same can be said for Michael Fassbender, who cements himself as a near-iconic villain, playing a truly despicable character so well that it makes your blood boil every time he’s on screen and lastly, Lupita Nyong’o makes herself known as the heart-wrenching Patsey in a truly deserving Oscar worthy role.
It’s not a movie for the faint hearted, since there are many instances that are difficult to watch, but director McQueen doesn’t let you shift your gaze from those crucial and painful parts, often keeping the camera lingering for several moments in a way that is truly a cinematic artform.
Steve McQueen and everyone involve worked to give the audience a film that isn’t purely for entertainment, but as part of an experience and it really feels like an experience watching this film as it should when it comes down to a true story. Although it’s one of those movies you probably won’t want to watch again, it’s also one of those films you are glad and thankful to have seen.