Tuesday, February 4, 2014

12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013) Review

Before we step into the world of 2014 films (The LEGO Movie is just raring to go!), we have another 2013 film to get out of the way. This is the first 2013 film I've seen since the Oscar nominations were announced which obviously made it easier to pinpoint which film to watch next...and having a friend watch it and tell me to see it ASAP...which I did. Here's 12 Years a Slave.

During the mid-1800s in the United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black family man, tricked, betrayed and sold into slavery. He is bought by a slave owner named Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) who looks favourably on Solomon. Complications arise and Solomon is forced to move to a second owner, Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). Solomon must endure years of slavery and torture and try to get word out of his abduction in an attempt to return to his free life.

Yeah, okay, this film is pretty amazing. I will admit that I am a bit reluctant to say that for a reason I will get onto but let's take a look at the positives! Chiwetel Ejiofor is fantastic as Solomon. He loses himself in the role and for that I can bloody well respect his acting ability. The emotion he conveys is phenomenal (the last scene especially, my God). He isn't the only standout cast member. Micheal Fassbender does an amazing job as Edwin Epps. He practically embodies everything that's wrong with slavery and Fassbender's talent does wonders. Other stars such as Benendict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano and even a cameo from Paul Giamatti deliver performances that will stick with you.

From a film-making standpoint, 12 Years a Slave is actually very unique. It has a habit of staying on a certain shot for a while which normally backfires but it adds to the uncertainty of the situation. One shot is especially exceptional which uses ambient noises and makes the film feel that much more realistic. There are also some nice transitions with one in particular that highlights the differences between Edwin and Solomon. There is some good stuff here.

12 Years a Slave is definitely an exceptional film based on a true story that I'm surprised didn't get a film soon enough. My only issue is that this is very clearly Oscar bait but, to be honest, it does deserve all the praise it receives. The only problem is that the competition for the Oscars this year is very tough! I'm still banking behind Gravity but I can perfectly understand defending this film at the awards.

Fantastically acted and uses some very unique film techniques.

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