12 Years A Slave ****

12-years-a-slave

 

 

Run Time: 134 mins                   Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: Directed by Steve McQueen and based on the real life memoirs of Solomon Northup, the movie follows the musician’s life as a slave after he is kidnapped and sold. 

 

The story begins when carpenter and violinist Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is offered a short music tour by two white men. Believing this will be good for his career, Solomon accepts but soon finds himself drugged and taken to New Orleans where he is sold as a slave and given a whole new identity.

 

Following being sold, Solomon works for plantation owners William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). Despite his relatively small role in the film, Cumberbatch is enjoyable to watch and remains semi-likeable. Fassbender has a more significant role and gives an excellent performance as a man who clearly has no conscience and takes great delight in abusing his slaves.

 

As the lead actor in the movie, Chiwetel Ejiofor is both interesting and believable to watch. While Solomon does not talk openly about his feelings, they are made very clear through his facial expressions, hunched shoulders and the way in which he hangs his head. In contrast to this, female slave Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) openly discusses how she feels about her life. This not only adds depth to the character but illustrates how different people dealt with their situation in completely different ways.

 

The scenes of violence in the film are truly brutal and nothing is left to the viewer’s imagination. Although this may distress some viewers, it adds to the level of realism by showing just how horrific life was for those living as slaves.

 

While the story does not have many twists, the film is both enjoyable and authentic with top class performances.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

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