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12 Years a Slave (2013)

Steve McQueen
12 Years a Slave
134 minutes
Brad Pitt
Dede Gardner
Jeremy Kleiner
Bill Pohlad
Steve McQueen
Arnon Milchan
Anthony Katagas
Screenwriter (based on Twelve Years a Slave by S. Northup):
John Ridley

Cast includes:

Solomon Northup Chiwetel Ejiofor ½
Patsey Lupita Nyong'o ½
Edwin Epps Michael Fassbender ½
Mary Epps Sarah Paulson
William Ford Benedict Cumberbatch
Samuel Bass Brad Pitt ½
John Tibeats Paul Dano ½
Eliza Adepero Oduye
Theophilus Freeman Paul Giamatti
Armsby Garret Dillahunt
Brown Scoot McNairy
Hamilton Taran Killam
Clemens Ray Chris Chalk
Robert Michael K. Williams
Mistress Harriet Shaw Alfre Woodard ½
Margaret Northup Quvenzhané Wallis



The film world's new super-partnership of writer/director Steve McQueen and actor Michael Fassbender cannot seem to do anything wrong. This is the third time in double as many years they have come together (after Hunger and Shame), and for the third time the result is a crisp and explosive entertainment/art combo that stirs up your gut and entices your brain, this time through an unpolished rendition of slave life on a cotton farm in the American South in the mid 19th century. The story is told through Solomon Northup, a free-born African American from New York who was kidnapped by slave-traders and auctioned off into slavery, and who later wrote his memoirs about his experiences.

12 Years a Slave invokes much of the same emotion as Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained did a year ago, only without the insipid mockery. And although McQueen undoubtedly knows which strings to pull − almost too well − his attention to detail and the psychological complexity in both captors and captives justifies the at times unforgiving and overly lingering depiction of brutality and violence. McQueen obviously wants us to suffer the way his protagonist suffered, and as long as the result isn't that he rekindles anger or implies collective guilt in contemporary viewers, I'm fine with that. At any rate, his means are never ineffective or stale. Superb performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor in the title role, the aforementioned Fassbender as the sadistic slave owner, and Lupita Nyong'o as a young female slave overshadow a terribly self-conscious Brad Pitt in a somewhat anachronistic part.

Copyright © 2.3.2014 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang