Brutality goes to a whole new level

Review of ’12 Years a Slave’

By Steven Cayer, Senior Columnist


It takes a lot these days for people to wince or cringe uncomfortably during a movie.

In 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen has taken that feeling and really built on it. He chose to tell the true life story of Solomon Northup, a free-born black man in 1841.

Played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Northup is a professional violinist with a wife and two children. One day, two men who claim to be a touring circus trick, kidnap, and sell Northup into slavery. Thus begins the overwhelmingly brutal life of a slave.

The movie is packed with A-list actors, including Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Paul Dano. Michael Fassbender has the performance of his career as a tyrannical, irrational, sociopathic plantation owner who commands the screen every time he’s on it.

This movie is the most realistic, brutal movie I’ve ever seen, and it’s a triumph in emotional delivery. McQueen really makes you feel absolutely everything that the slaves go through: every beating, every lash.

Ejiofor also has the performance of his career, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Fassbender each get nominations come Oscar season.

It’s a very tough movie to get through. You might regret it at first during the stunned silence at the end, but then you’ll be glad you were a part of movie history.