12 Years a Slave (2013)


In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. (IMDb)
The significance of the mid-narrative opening scene still isn’t clear as it’s returned to later on, but it’s the only thing that doesn’t connect in this affecting and well-acted (Fassbender is a highlight) period piece. McQueen’s direction is laudably and fittingly unrelenting and inaccessible, with achingly long takes (see Solomon’s tiptoe hanging) and unflinching scenes of violence (see Patsy’s whipping). Bursts of tense music also add emotional nuance to the typical sentimental soundtrack.
8/10 (Great)


  1. This is such an incredible film, but it isn’t an easy watch. And yes, Solomon’s hanging is one of the most uncomfortable scenes that I’ve seen in years. Great review, Joel!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you mentioned the mid-narrative opening – I’m not entirely sure it made all that much sense as a directorial decision. Apart from that, though, it’s a pretty fantastic movie! Slightly overrated, but one of the few films that I think everyone should see (with other “must-sees” including The Shawshank Redemption, Schindler’s List and The Lion King, off the top of my head).

    Liked by 1 person

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