Film review: '12 Years a Slave' is on top of the must watch list

Friday, 31 January 2014 - 1:33pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

  • A still from the film

Film:  12 Years a Slave
Cast:  Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lupita Nyong’o
Director: Steve McQueen           
Rating: ****1/2

What’s it about:
Slavery has often been a subject of Hollywood film makers and even authors. Numerous books and screenplays have been written about that dark period where humanity took a step back giving color and racial prejudice precedence. Steve McQueen’s 12 years of slave is disturbing and stark yet so honest and sincere in its attempt to document the life of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) whose journey to freedom is remarkably inspiring. The ensemble cast boasts of acting stalwarts who make watching the film a rewarding experience.

What’s hot:
It isn’t sitting through the physical and verbal abuse scenes, but these are important in the story line. McQueen is superb in his handling of the subject and shows the finesse of someone who understands the deep subtexts of the issue at hand.

Despite the dramatic moments and some disturbing scenes, there is an undercurrent of faith and hope running throughout the film. Ejiofor deserves a standing ovation for his performance as each time he says a prayer or hopes the morning will light bring a different morning, we too hope and pray with him.

Lupita Nyong’o has been the break through artist of the year with her performance already winning a few big awards. Hans Zimmer’s score is in sync with the varied emotions of these characters. Cinematographer Sean Bobbitt sets up a beautiful canvas and the costume and set decoration brings the period alive.

What’s not:
It isn't as thrilling as Django Unchained or engaging as The Butler, so patience is the key if you want to actually live through this experience.  There are several moments of depression and insane human atrocity, so those with a weak stomach might have a reason to worry.  Towards the end we forget about the hundreds of other Solomon’s whose stories and lives never got an audience.

What to do:
12 Years a Slave has some outstanding performances that put the film on top of the must watch list. 

Watch the trailer:

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