Year of Release: 2013
Director: Steve McQueen
Approx. Running Time: 134 minutes
My Rating: 3 stars (Out of 5)
From Back Cover:
"ABUNDANT WITH BEAUTY, AWE AND POWER."
-Vanessa Bush, ESSENCE
From acclaimed director Steve McQueen comes this "deeply evocative and brilliantly acted" film (Claudia Puig, USA TODAY) based on the true story of Solomon Northup.
It is 1841, and Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor in a gripping performance), an accomplished, free citizen of New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Stripped of his identity and deprived of all dignity, Northup is ultimately purchased by ruthless plantation owner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender) and must find the strength within to survive. Filled with powerful performances by an astonishing cast that include Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt and newcomer Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years A Slave is both an unflinching account of slavery in American history and a celebration of the indomitable power of hope.
12 Years A Slave took the Best Picture award at the 2014 Oscars. Although it is a strong film about an important subject, it is not without its flaws. The most glaring flaw is in how poorly the passage of time is portrayed. What is meant to be 12 years feels more like 12 months. And while many of the performances are quite good (most notably that of Lupita Nyong'o, who won Best Supporting Actress), some are not. The worst of which is Paul Dano, who screeches his way through most of his scenes, rendering his character more laughable than menacing. Michael Fassbender, too, takes it a little far - though I'll grant that the fault there may lay more with the script than the performance. And even the core performance by Ejiofor is a bit lackluster. He's not bad, but I felt more emotionally connected to some of the supporting characters, like Patsey and Master Ford.
Still the film does give us an unflinching look some of the horrors suffered by those enslaved in 1800s America.
Rated R (MPAA)
2013 (Year of Release)