12 Years A Slave

November 3, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Posted in 2013 | Leave a comment
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Throughout this film I found it hard not to compare it to Tarantino’s 2012 film, “Django Unchained.”  This is that film’s older brother.  Far less splashy than “Django” but also, because it’s grounded in the real world, far more disturbing. I left “Django” a bit in awe of the spectacle of it; after “12 Years,” I felt exhausted. This is not an easy film to see.  It is truly brutal in parts and has the worst scene of a person being whipped I think I have ever seen. That said, there are powerful performances here.  Virtually every little speaking part has somebody of note: Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Alfre Woodard, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Garret Dillahunt.  It seems everyone wanted to be in this film and it shows in their performances.  Chiwetel Ejiofor, who has been on my radar since 2005’s “Serenity,” has finally gotten the vehicle to show off his talent; I fully expect his star to rise rapidly from here.  If director Steve McQueen (who’s first two films were the shockingly brilliant “Hunger” and “Shame”) has a muse, it’s Michael Fassbender.  He throws himself into roles in a way few actors do and his intensity is unnerving here; he oozes a sort of ugliness that many actors would be afraid to portray. He will likely get an Oscar nod for this (The Academy loves flashy performances), though I think he was more deserving for his brilliant portrayal of the sex addict in “Shame.”  The real star of this movie, and I fear she might slip through the cracks, is Lupita Nyong’o.  In her first film role, Nyong’o stole every scene with the raw emotion and vulnerability she put into her role.  I have no idea how she was able to become that character, so strong and so broken at the same time; that’s the performance that deserves the awards.  This is not an easy film to watch in any way but it is a beautiful one, none-the-less.

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