Bottom Line: Immersing you, head first, in to the horrific experience of slavery, 12 YEARS A SLAVE is a bold movie that many critics have regarded as the best movie of the year – a movie right now deserving of the Oscar for best picture. I’m here to say: Not. So. Fast… It’s powerful, no doubt – and it unflinchingly rests on an effective foundation of grief, guilt, resilience, isolation and courage. As tough as a sit this might be for some, the journey is worth every minute due to the direction, cinematography, supporting actors and, most importantly, the Oscar ready performance of Chiwetel Ejiofor (Choo-ih-tell Edge-ee-o-for; SALT, INSIDE MAN and LOVE ACTUALLY). I can’t however, jump on the ravenous bandwagon of overwhelming positivity for this film because – and I don’t mean to belittle the experience; any amount of time spent in slavery is too much – but, I never bought in to the transition of time passing. It literally felt like, maybe, three-and-a-half years a slave. I had very little reason to believe that this man would hardly change after 4,380 days. And with all the lashings, hangings and ill-thought actions of the owners, it never reached me on a firm emotional level; they never dug in to the core of this particular human’s soul – I know he did, but it rarely seemed like he truly missed his family. Is it hard to watch? Yes. Will it make you cry? Maybe. Those minor issues aside, 12 YEARS A SLAVE remains a beautiful and brutal movie that’s very good…just not THAT great.
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Adepero Oduye, Alfre Woodard and Brad Pitt
Directed by: Steve McQueen (SHAME and HUNGER)
Running time: 133 minutes
Story: Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup, the New York State citizen who was kidnapped and made to work on a plantation in New Orleans in the 1800s.