Monday, October 21, 2013

12 Years A Slave

While anticipating a great movie, sometimes it can be difficult to separate one's expectations from the final product. Often times this leads to a drop in the viewer's appreciation and allows for a solid movie to subjectively appear poor in quality. So when I say I legitimately thought 12 Years a Slave would be THE BEST film of the year, it means a great deal to come around after seeing it and still say that it will be ONE OF the best of 2013. Why the slight drop off? Reality.
In truth it probably wouldn't have mattered if I had anticipated this film or walked into a theatre with no expectations. It is a great movie. But with a few nit-picky flaws that hold it back. Mostly at the beginning and within minor acting performances... oh and the score could have been much stronger. But the cinematography, directorial focus, and well... the lead performances easily masked those issues.
By the end the audience had developed a keen understanding of Chiwetel Ejiofor's Solomon Northup. We only wanted him to succeed because we recognized the injustice of his situation and the pains he has taken to keep his sanity under horrendous stress. He fought back in situations where most would turn their heads and consistently confirmed in our minds the utter hopeless nature of the world he lived in. I think Chiwetel's been en route to an Oscar for the last ten years... and perhaps this is the performance that breaks him through.
Michael Fassbender delivers like no other actor I've seen. Every film I see him in... not matter how I feel about the final product... always has a bright spot as long as he is on the screen. He just doesn't let up. Fassbender is the definition of consistency and I would love to see him represented in the best supporting actor category.
This was the nature of my anticipation. Two of my three favorite living actors in one film (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender... the third being Colin Firth) playing off of one another. I relished the opportunity to see them butt heads. And the payoff was absolutely there. With this caliber of lead performance, Steve McQueen almost didn't need anything else at all. Though he still managed to lure Benedict Cumberbatch (who has been on quite a roll lately), Paul Giamatti, Adepero Oduye, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, and Brad Pitt. All while also stirring a brilliant performance from newcomer Lupita Nyong'o who helped to bring added life to the second half of the film.
Steve McQueen has, with only three films under his belt, managed to gain my trust, at least for the next decade. He is a smart filmmaker and a good filmmaker... and the two rarely go hand in hand.

I know it's a touchy subject, but 12 Years a Slave does deliver. Please go see this film.

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