Cary, NC- 12 Years A Slave tells the true story of Soloman Northup, a free black man from upstate New York in the 1840’s who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.Easily one of the best films to come out this year, 12 Years A Slave also features outstanding performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor ( 2012, American Gangster, Love Actually) and Michael Fassbender (X Men: First Class, Prometheus).
Even with such difficult subject matter, 12 Years A Slave proves to be an inspirational tale of hope and human perseverance. Director Steve McQueen doesn’t shy away from accurately depicting one of America’s darkest periods, but he also knows to never lose focus of the main character’s hope that he might one day get to see his family again. It’s a move that allows the director to be unflinching in a way that all audiences can handle.
Great Performances Anchor Already Great Film
As Soloman Northup, Chiwetel Ejiofor gives an astonishing performance that runs the gamut of human emotions. Ejiofor is one of those actors that has been around for years, popping up in this or that, always doing a great job and constantly on the edge of breaking out into full blown stardom. Well, that moment is finally here, because Ejiofor has proved himself to be an actor that can be ignored no longer.
In scene after scene, Ejiofor gives off anger, helplessness and hope, often all at once and usually without any dialogue. There is one moment in particular where, after several years have gone by in this seemingly impossible situation, Northup finally accepts his situation. It’s a devastating moment, and Ejiofor gives Tom Hanks and his performance in Captain Phillips a genuine run for his money as one of the years’ best.
Equally as good is Michael Fassbender as slave owner Edwin Epps. All I can really say without giving too much away, is that Epps was basically one of the most despicable human beings to ever exist, and Fassbender gives it his all.
His character is the center point of the film’s most difficult scene, and Fassbender holds nothing back. It’s actually kind of amazing to see an actor so unafraid to be hated. The same could be said of Paul Dano ( Prisoners, There Will Be Blood), who has a small role as a farm hand who is only marginally less despicable than Fassbender. Both actors dive into their roles with no abandon and the film is better for it.
12 Years a Slave – A Must See!
12 Years A Slave is a flat out fantastic movie. Difficult yes, but with a deep sense of hope and humanity that outshines any bleak aspect of the movie. See it in the theater, and see it soon.
Review by Jordan Hunt for CaryCitizen. Read more Movie Reviews.