Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave is one of the few upcoming movies which has got people checking their calendars so as not to miss it’s premiere and if the reviews from Telluride Film Festival (TFF) are anything to go by, the premiere of the movie is worth setting a reminder for.
Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, an educated free black man who was kidnapped while on business in Washington D.C in 1841 and sold into slavery. He worked on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before his release came in 1953. The movie also stars Michael Fassbender (Shame), Brad Pitt (World War Z), Adepero Oduye (Pariah), Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts Of The Southern Wild), Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man), Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story), Michael K Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness).
The first review for the movie i came across was that of Senior Film Critic – Peter Debruge who does a great job going through the good, the better, and the best parts of the movie as well as helping to set the tone for what people should expect when they decide to go see this movie at the cinemas.
Check out an excerpt of his review gotten via Variety below
The first thing fans of McQueen’s “Hunger” and “Shame” will notice here is the degree to which the helmer’s austere formal technique has evolved — to the extent that one would almost swear he’d snuck off and made three or four films in the interim. Composition, sound design and story all cut together beautifully, and yet, there’s no question that “12 Years a Slave” remains an art film, especially as the provocative director forces audiences to confront concepts and scenes that could conceivably transform their worldview.
If “Django Unchained” opened the door, then “12 Years a Slave” goes barreling through it, tackling its subject with utmost seriousness. The film opens in a world where slavery is a fact of life and Northrup has no recourse to challenge his captivity. Duped and drugged on a bogus job interview, he awakens in shackles and is beaten ferociously when he dares to assert his status as a free man. Some may wonder why he doesn’t continue to protest, forgetting that the word of a black man in pre-Civil War America had almost no legal currency, especially if said individual was unable to produce his free papers.
Assuming Northrup wants to survive, a fellow hostage advises, he must do and say as little as possible, in addition to hiding his ability to read and write. “I don’t want to survive,” Northrup bellows. “I want to live!” Separated from his wife and children, he faces a situation where the entire society is stacked against him. While not every white person in the film is evil, they willingly participate in a system that demeans their fellow man, and the injustice is too great simply to forget and move on (as Hollywood and society would evidently prefer).
To simplify Northrup’s memoir, John Ridley’s script lets the character — stripped even of his identity as he is redubbed Platt Hamilton en route to market — change hands just three times over the course of the film. Two of those owners, played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Bryan Batt, are as decent as the circumstances permit, even going so far as to encourage the fiddle playing with which he previously earned his living in upstate New York. The third, Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), becomes the bane of Northrup’s existence — a man who justifies his actions according to scripture and prides himself in “breaking” disobedient slaves.Read more at Variety