New in theaters this week we have a movie that’s already getting Oscar buzz. It’s called “12 Years a Slave” and is based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free man who was kidnapped and sold-into slavery in the mid-1800’s.
“12 Years a Slave,” has a star studded cast, including Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti & Michael Fassbender, but the man you won’t be able to look away from is Chiwetel Ejiofor. He plays Solomon Northup with such wide-eyed shock, he still seems astounded by his circumstances even years into his enslavement. Michael Fassbender gives a stellar performance as well but Brad Pitt is surprisingly the weak link. He plays an abolitionist who helps Northup and it’s not that he isn’t GOOD. It’s just that Pitt’s good looks and gorgeous blonde locks stand out like a sore thumb on an 1800’s plantation. That is the only complaint I have about an otherwise stunning film, so I’m giving “12 Years a Slave” an A- WITH CONDITIONS. This movie is a stark and punishing portrayal of slavery. There are no moments of levity or promise. It is over 2 hours of abuse, torture and agony.
Director Steve McQueen doesn’t care about giving viewers a fun time. He wants to start a discussion and challenge his audience, which might be too much for some people. Prepare yourself because “12 Years a Slave” is an important story that needs to be told, but it is difficult to watch.