Adapted from Solomon Northup’s autobiography, 12 Years A Slave chronicles the enduring and most of the time painful memory of Northup’s life into slavery. Born as a freeman, Northup was abducted and was sold as a slave from master to master and eventually grasping the freedom he never thought would come.
Prior to watching the film, I already have a preconceived idea about what’s it going to be. Not a clear one but almost a foreshadowing on how this would turn out – sold into slavery then the lead fought for freedom and that’s it. I was wrong though – blatantly wrong.
12 Years A Slave may very well be the best movie of all time to capture the heart and soul of that nasty memory of human history where slavery and racial inequality was the most prevalent thing in the world that it’s almost dreamy. Director Steve McQueen did not back down on letting us see the almost physical and psychological trauma that will engulf his audience. I for one felt a bit uncomfortable watching some of the scenes especially that scene when Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o,) a fellow slave was stripped, tied to a post and was whipped by Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor) himself and his second master Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender.) It was just heartbreaking and totally painful to watch.
Now, speaking of the three, they all provided the right synergy to connect with their audience. Lupita Nyong’o delivered an almost innocent and flawless performance that I find myself overwhelmed by it. Michael Fassbender, the sadistic and drunk second master of Solomon was perfection here! He provided that lethal feel to the character yet at some point, you’d also feel for him.
Chiwetel Ejiofor on the other hand was almost numb to what’s happening with his character that his Solomon was flowing through him. He is him. Ejiofor was translucent and targeted his audience with those eyes – haunting eyes, blaming, begging, piercing eyes. This was a performance so powerful it will break you.
As an afterthought, the film was consistent in providing a drastic storyline that encompasses Solomon’s life to the point that it’s almost nonsensical to ask for more. It was sentimental, yes, but it provides authority. Sure, it’s a total Oscar bait but it’s all worth it. It was a film that is worthy of talk and worthy of endurance amongst all the films to come in later years.
Director: Steve McQueen
Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Paul Dano, Adepero Oduye, Paul Giamatti, Alfre Woodard