12yearsSeldom has the will to survive and the determination of the human spirit been portrayed as vividly as in the new drama 12 Years a Slave.

12 Years a Slave

Seldom has the will to survive and the determination of the human spirit been portrayed as vividly as in the new drama 12 Years a Slave. Based on the true story of Solomon Northup this biographical account of his ordeal is a must see, even as hard as it is to watch. Full of award winning performances it may not be a perfect film but one that is powerfully moving.

Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free, black man in pre-Civil War upstate New York. His family is respected, educated, and wealthy. When he is captured and sold into slavery it takes every once of fortitude for him to not only survive but keep his mental capacity in check. It is hard for the mind to grasp how an individual can hold on to hope while enduring everything that Solomon endures.

Ejiofor is captivating in this role and wears emotion like others would a fine robe. You can see the struggle drip from every pore. Northup had to play the role of slave even though he knew he was a free man. During his 12 years of slavery he faced masters both cruel and compassionate; yet none he could trust to tell his story to. The film does a fantastic job of showing both sides of human nature.

Michael Fassbender gets my award vote as the viscous slave owner, Edwin Epps. Epps is the poster child for everything that was despicable during that portion of our nations history. His back and forth sparring with Northup is fascinating to watch on the big screen. Other memorable perfomances come from Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Paul Giamatti. These may be brief but the screen time they have is delivered with award caliber perfection.

Other than the acting there is little to applaud. The writing and direction comes across at times very Shakespearean and stage-like. The dialogue is often out of character and doesn't fit the period. As a two hour plus film we could do without the long expanse of time watching a character stand in a field of grass pondering. These are of course trivial and in no way take away from the overall story and characters portrayed. It is just something to be mindful of going in.

12 Years a Slave is rated R for violence/cruelty, some nudity and brief sexuality. This is a very adult film due to the themes and brutality. It is hard to fathom that one human could do such things to another. Though a must see it is not a film to be watched easily nor repeatedly. Once is expected and arguably, enough. I give it 4.5 out of 5 hopes of a better tomorrow. I perfect picture of the spirits ability to survive the worst.

Matt Mungle

Review copyright 2013 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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