DVD Review: 12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave places Chiwetel Ejiofor in the role of Solomon Northup, a New York State citizen who was kidnapped, accused of being a runaway slave, and made to work on plantations in New Orleans in the 1800s. It’s based in part on the memior of Solomon Northup, and as a story of slavery is a fairly compelling one.
But it’s not the story that makes it so compelling, in fact it’s a little slow if I’m to be brutally honest. Sure, Steve McQueen does a fantastic job delivering a brutal story without focussing solely on the graphic brutality of human nature, utalising a balance of visual and implied to give the film it’s cruel edge.
But even McQueen doesn’t do enough to make 12 Years A Slave compelling on it’s own. No, 12 Years’ strength is in it’s ensemble cast. From the brilliant and understated acting of Chiwetel Ejiofor, to the supporting roles of Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, and even Brad Pitt (who takes a small, but pivital role in the film) it’s the actors that make 12 Years the film it is.
Without such a powerful cast 12 Years would never have soared to such heights. The story of black freemen being kidnapped and sold into slavery is an interesting one that I had no knowledge of, but as far as the cruelty of slavery goes, I’ve seen it all before.
The compelling nature of the story is in it’s characters, the difference between Cumberbatch’s character and Fassbender’s show how evil has many levels, and I haven’t seen Paul Giamatti fit a role so fantastically great as the bastard he portrays in this film.
Not that having the characters define the film is a bad thing, it’s just that people seem to have raved about how great the story is, when infact it’s just an ok story, delivered with great passion by a stellar group of actors.