October 7, 2013

NYFF13'- 12 Years a Slave Review: "I don't want to survive. I want to live"

Writing a review for this film is going to be extremely difficult for me. Not because of the subject matter, but because putting into words how incredible this movie was, will be damn near impossible. I have been a fan of Steve McQueen for a very long time. Hunger gave me chills and Shame emotionally drained me. A McQueen film always resonates with me no matter how I feel about the movie as a whole. When I heard he was going to tackle the memoirs of  Solomon Northrope the first thing I thought was “Oh, this is going to get real.” As I’ve said in the past, Steve McQueen doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable  topics. In person he is very frank and no nonsense.  Instead of tiptoeing around a subject he tackles it head on and gives you are unfiltered look into some of life’s most horrific aspects.

12 years a Slave follows the story of Solomon Northup, a free black man, who is abducted and enslaved for 12 years. Solomon is determined to survive despite impossible odds and dreams of one day reunite with his family in New York.

  This movie hit it out of the park when it comes to ensemble casting. There is not one weak link in the film at all. Everyone plays their part and it adds to the already heart wrenching story. Chiwetel Ejiofor will be nominated. I’m saying it right now. The Academy has ignored some great performances, but they can’t ignore this one. There is a scene where Solomon just stares at the camera and it’s one of the most heartbreaking moments in the film. Ejiofor lays everything on the table and showcases a performance range, which will blow you away.

  Ejiofor has been in the game for awhile (mostly known in Britain) and I am so happy that this film will give him the recognition he rightfully deserves.  And you can't write a review on this film without mentioning Michael Fassbender, an actor who came in, guns blazing, last year with McQueen's Shame. After last year's disappointing snub from the Acadmey, Fassbender comes again with another amazing perforamance as the slave owner Edwin Epps whose cruelty and ruthlessness knows no bounds. Another performance, this year that the Acadmey can't afford to ignore. I can say with all the confidence I can muster, that Fassbender will be nominated for this role, no question.

 Another person who I feel is going to knock the award season on its ass is Lupita N’yongo. Do not sleep on her people, this woman is going to be the one to watch for. Her performance as Patsy is the best of the film hands down. Patsy’s tragic story  is displayed through the incredible performance of N’yongo.  Just pure, unfiltered excellence through and through.

I could go on and on about each actor and actress, and how wonderful they were, but I’m just going to urge you to see it for yourselves. 12 Years a Slave is not for the faint of heart, but it is an important film and one that should be discussed right afterwards.

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