Review

At the time of writing, slavery drama "12 Years A Slave" has been nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards including Best Drama, Best Actor in a Drama (Chiwetel Ejiofor) Best Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender), Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong'o), Best Director (Steve McQueen), Best Screenplay (John Ridley) and Best Original Score (Hans Zimmer) and after seeing this powerhouse of a film you wouldn't bet against it winning a number of these come awards night.

Director Steve McQueen has made a film that is nothing short of a masterpiece and one that is made all the more harrowing given the fact that it is based on a true story.

British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, a free black man living with a wife and family in Saratoga, New York in 1844. The film tells the story of the not-uncommon practice during that era where free black people living in the north were abducted and taken south to be used as slaves. Solomon, after a dinner celebrating his success in Washington, awakens in an empty room shackled to a wall. He is told that he is a now regarded as a runaway slave from Georgia named Platt. He is then shipped with a group of other "slaves" down the river to Louisiana where he discovers the terrible reality of his situation.

Aside from the constant brutality, he witnesses the breaking up of families, children taken from their mothers to be sold as slaves and the absolute power that white slave owners enjoy over their property. Sold to a relatively enlightened master (Benedict Cumberbatch), Solomon works with his fellow slaves at picking cotton. His skill with the fiddle occasionally allows him to enjoy a few moments of respite from his work, but also increases his despair; witnessing the freedom and luxury of the plantation owners reminds him of the life he lost.

He suffers a great deal more pain when his owner must sell him to a psychotic plantation owner, Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), who sleeps with some of the women he owns and orders vicious whippings for what he perceives as disobedience or laziness. Constantly attempting to communicate with people he knows in Saratoga, Solomon finds himself betrayed at every turn by those he believed would help him.

Ejiofor is brilliant in the lead role, he embodies the character so fully we totally believe in his resolve not to founder, and suffer when he does. Fassbender as "Epps" is just as good. You really do believe that this is a man capable of causing untold suffering to other humans. One scene in particular where Epps takes a whip to one of his slaves will make you turn away from the screen such is its brutality.

However perhaps the stand-out in a film full of wonderful performances is that of Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o who plays “Patsey,” an African slave woman who is subjected to horrendous abuse by the plantation owner Epps. This is her first American feature and you wouldn't bet against her lifting the best supporting actress come Oscar night.

12 Days A Slave is a film that everyone should see - it's harrowing, moving and come the titles it's guaranteed that you'll have to sit in the dark that little bit longer in order to regain your composure. Don't miss.



12 Years A Slave (15)

2h 13m

Director: Steve McQueen
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Lupita Nyong'o, Brad Pitt

UK Release: Friday 10th January 2014






12 Years A Slave - "Where You From, Platt?" Clip 

12 Years A Slave - "What'd You Say To Pats?" Clip