Now this was a movie I was super keen to see – from my beloved Michael Fassbender to the formidable Chiwetel Ejiofor (who I saw live on stage last year at the Young Vic theatre in London in the wonderful “A Season in the Congo”) to big guns like Brad Pitt and the marmite Benedict Cumberbatch (that I never really liked but who is growing on me since he did that poetic reading of R Kelly on the Jimmy Kimmel show).
Another movie based on a true story – this movie is based on the incredible true story of Solomon Northup, a free man from New York in pre Civil War America who was tricked and abducted into being sold as a slave to the deep south where he spent 12 years as a slave before a chance encounter with a wonderful Canadian travelling carpenter helps him get his freedom back.
Plot summary ccording to IMDB: “In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life.”
Chiwetel Ejiofor was hugely impressive when I saw him on stage in London and he continues to impress here, my darling Fassbender continues his pattern of playing dark, troubled and intensely unlikable characters in his role as the cruel slave owner, Brad Pitt plays a lame guest appearance where he is the brilliant saviour with the best part of his role being his beautifully trimmed beard – but hey he did produce the movie so I guess he’s allowed that? Over the years I have developed a huge admiration for the work of director Steve McQueen who tackles subjects other people fear to touch and he does so without judgement and with a sharp eye for detail and honest potrayal.
Is the movie gruesome and too graphic? No, personally I didn’t think so. Is the casting good? Excellent. Is it convincing? I’m not sure I know enough about this period in history to be able to judge this, but I’d like to think so. Is it worth the hype? Not too sure it is, but it is definitely a movie everyone needs to go see.