12 Years a Slave Movie Review
Before seeing 12 Years a Slave, go out and have a wonderful day. See some wonderful stuff, something beautiful, because this film is raw, unflinching, and relentless. But it would be disservice for me not to call this an incredible feature. This is almost the same exact thing I say to people when talking about Schindler’s List. You owe it yourself to see this film, just do not get excited about it. 12 Years a Slave is important, very important, actually the most important film to come out in years.
Starting off with an obvious standout is the performances. Chiwetel Ejiofor as our lead Solomon Northup gives what might be the best performance of 2013. I did not see Chiwetel Ejiofor, I only saw Solomon Northup. Ejiofor was really able to transform into a man that went through endless suffering, refusing to fall into despair. Ejiofor very well could receive the Academy Award for his performance. Michael Fassbender could receive a Best-Supporting Actor nomination as well, playing a wicked, cruel, and a conscious-less slave owner who you (and everyone) despise. Benedict Cumberbatch does a good job as a gentle and kind slave owner who tends to be a bit of a coward when it comes to standing up for what is right. Brad Pitt is also very good in his role, among other actors. One more needing serious mention Lupita Nyong’o who does a very realistic job at playing a woman in total despair ready to give up.
Steve McQueen directs the most mature film of 2013. I was disturbed at how realistic McQueen was able to get. McQueen is and African American director so this subject matter may be even more personal to him than your everyday director. Steve McQueen also directed 2011’s Shame also starring Michael Fassbender which received some critical praise for its honest approach on sex addiction. It has officially come to the point where I will be on the lookout for any upcoming Steve McQueen films, purely for an honest portrait of anything important. This is the man deserving of the most praise for the brilliant payoff 12 Years a Slave was, and still is.
Hans Zimmer sings, I mean composes his heart out for 12 Years a Slave. It is thoroughly reminiscent of his work on Inception, particularly Time. Replacing the piano, guitar and most electric instruments, and instead heavily occupying the cello. Along with the score is the relentless cinematography. So many shots are extended over several minutes. One being a character hanging from a noose trying for his life to touch the ground with his tippy-toes, this shot goes on for a very long and a very uncomfortable amount of time.
I honestly like it more every minute. The film is a solid 2 hour 15 minute film, and it feels like it too. But it was not supposed to be a quick film like last year’s polar opposite, Django Unchained. Twelve years is a long time to cover and these years are filled with suffering and the films true antagonist, despair. With all of the sorrow and depression going on throughout 12 Years a Slave, by the end you cannot help be somewhat uplifted. It says so much about life and living in general. One comparison I would like to make would be comparing 12 Years a Slave to a superhero film. In superhero films I should leave wanting to do good and serve justice, however 12 Years a Slave did this to me more than any superhero film I have seen in a long time.
If you can stomach the raw brutality of the whippings and what follows, you should see this movie, but you should not excite yourself because you will not have fun, and my only slight complaint is that it could be about 10 minutes shorter. However I left feeling inspired by this modern classic. 12 Years a Slave is true cinema.