Review: 12 Years a Slave

Never in my life have I wanted to punch so many actors I like in the face.
 
Paul Dano? Creepy racist power-trip. Benedict Cumberbatch? You're still part of the problem. Paul Giamatti? Fat jerk. Michael Fassbender? Crazy drunk asshole. Sarah Paulson? Bitch. Taran Killem? Wipe that smile off of your face. Don't worry, those are their characters I'm talking about. I had to get that off my chest.
 
Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free man living in New York. One day, he's tricked by two circus acts, Brown and Hamilton (Taran Killem and Scoot McNairy) and is drugged and sold into slavery. No one believes he is free, and the more he protests, the worse he's beaten. Northup spends the longest amount of time under a cruel owner Edwin Epps, (Michael Fassbender) a man who grows even more sinister when he drinks.
 
Powerful. That's the best word to describe this movie. Sure, we know at the beginning that Solomon will eventually be free again, but it doesn't make seeing what happened to him any easier to watch. This film is practically a horror film. The things we see on screen are terrifying. (Even more so when you know this actually happened. A lot.)
 
Ejiofor owns this role. There are many times where director Steve McQueen has the camera focused only on Ejiofor's face, and that's all you need. It speaks volumes. Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o turn in spectacular supporting performances as well, though on different levels. Fassbender is cruel and horrifying, where as Nyong'o is tragic, yet strong. Her character endures so much, I would be shocked if she's left off the Oscar ballet this year. Michael Kenneth Williams shows up for a few minutes. Of course his first scene his character is gagged, because the man that plays Chalky White on Boardwalk Empire always speaks his mind. Then there was Adepero Oduye, who was tremendous in Pariah who made me shed my first set of tears during this film. Brad Pitt brings his Aldo Rayne accent back, and that's always a plus.
 
The ending was heartbreaking and perfect. They so could've gone the cheesy "running into everyone's arms while triumphant music plays in the back ground." way. But it was subtle and Solomon of all people apologizes to his family. APOLOGIZES. That's how good of a man he is, and that's what makes it even sadder. I literally couldn't even get up right away after the credits started rolling. I had to gather my composure because I was crying like a baby again.
 
I'm in awe with 12 Years A Slave, yet I don't know if I could actually sit through it and watch it again. It was a heavy, heavy film. One that needs to be scene at least once.
 
Recommended: Yes
 
Grade: A
 
Memorable Quote: "My bed is too holy for you to share." - Mistress Epps (Sarah Paulson)

12 comments:

  1. Good review Brittani. I didn't love this one, however, I'll give it plenty of credit for at least showing us a side of American society that we at least take notice of, but never go into as deep as we should. Here though, I feel like we explored that side better than ever, with as much detail as possible.

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    1. Yeah, your review was super positive! I read it right before I went to watch this. This is definitely the best narrative for it.

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  2. GREAT review, I really need to get on reviewing this at some point... it's been a while since I saw it. Ahah yeah, I hated the characters played by a lot of my fave actors too, that's a testament of how good their performances were. Still it's Ejiofor's film and rightly so, I hope he'd get an Oscar nom out of this!

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    1. If he doesn't (and I can't see any reason why he wouldn't) I will scream.

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  3. Glad you liked the film, though it is probably the second time in my life after Les Mis after people found a film powerful and it didn't move me at all.


    "Benedict Cumberbatch? You're still part of the problem"

    :)

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    1. That was me the year before with The Artist. :) As for Benny Batch, I was just like "come ON man!"

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  4. You made a very good point about how cliche the ending could have carried out, but that gut-wrenching apology was brutal to watch. All I kept thinking during that scene was Academy Award Academy Award Academy Award.

    "Ejiofor owns this role. There are many times where director Steve McQueen has the camera focused only on Ejiofor's face, and that's all you need." YES. THIS is precisely why this film belongs to Ejiofor. Don't get me wrong...the ensemble cast is strong, but this is Ejiofor's film.

    Check out my review...I was pretty awestruck by this one too.

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    1. I was thinking the same thing! I actually think he was more powerful than Hanks in Captain Phillips, and THAT was some serious acting. I'm officially on the Ejiofor bandwagon for the rest of Oscar season. I just read your review and commented. :)

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  5. Wonderful review. I loved the performances, and McQueen's approach to the material was brilliant. I've sat through it twice, and I honestly felt more uncomfortable in Django Unchained. I'm not sure why, though.

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    1. Django Unchained was easier for me since it had those comedy bits. The ending of 12 years, wow. I couldn't even get up right away.

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  6. Absolutely agree. I LOVED this movie. Saw it at the New York Film Festival and felt like an idiot because I was bawling all over myself. So good. Totally agree on the ending. Subtle and perfect.

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    1. I'm glad I wasn't the only one! I didn't even want to get up I was crying so hard.

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