12 Years a Slave review

12-years-a-slave12 Years a Slave (2013)

Directed by Steve McQueen

Written by John Ridley (Story by Solomon Northup)

Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti & Brad Pitt

Gosh, I’ve been away again. I finally got to see 12Years a Slave that I’ve been waiting to hit the Finnish cinemas for ages (or so it feels). And it was the best new film since Drive (that’s 1,5 years)! I do admit, I have enjoyed some films more than this but the way Steve McQueen handles the subject is spectacular. In hands of incapable director this one could’ve been a mess or at least overly dramatised. Now it’s almost perfect.

The story itself is interesting, brutal and honest in the way that it is sometimes hard to watch. I did close my eyes at least in one scene. And I felt bad, well, almost through whole film. Or not actually bad, more like, embarrassed. Because, you know, we still tend to act that way. And that’s the best side of this film. It makes you think. Me and my friend ended up talking about our own behaviour towards foreign people, people with different culture and even people with different skin colour. It is no wonder if refugees or other people from different cultures that are minority act out poorly when that is exactly what the major population is expecting them to do. Like in Finland, it’s really hard to get a job if you don’t speak Finnish and then what choices do you have other than get the money from the government (when Finnish people complain that you’re here only for free living), steal or beg. I thought about Solomon Northup beforehand and wondered why he just didn’t leave. Well, I know now why.

twelve-years-a-slave-michael-fassbenderWhen it comes to film making, 12 Years a Slave is beautifully shot; eg. there are some extra lovely shots of the nature of deep south that are so beautiful yet same time so creepy when compared to the horrors happening in the scene. Everyone of the actors and actresses are making their best job. I truly believe Lupita Nyong´o deserves her Oscar and Fassbender would too. His portrait of this sadistic character is unbelievably human. None of the white characters of the film are without soul (Sarah Paulson is also fantastic). You kind of understand where their behaviour arise from. And same time you just can’t understand how anyone can do that to another person. I liked a lot of Benedict Cumberbatch’s character (although he was not in his best) especially because his character made me think how I would have acted at those circumstances. I’d like to believe I’d been braver. Hopefully I’ll never come across to that kind of situation.

The only thing that was a bit too much in the film is, surprisingly, music. It’s too much. And I love Hans Zimmer and his compositions usually but because the story of Solomon is told quite a subtle way, the music is too dramatic. It does work in some of the scenes but not in all. McQueen is basically stating “this happened” but Zimmer is building up much more and for this once it doesn’t work. But that’s my only complaint.

12yearsIf they don’t give the Best Picture Oscar to this film, it’ll be injustice. Gravity is amazing, I’ve never seen anything like it and I’m sure American Hustle is a riot with great actors but 12 Years a Slave is a film that has a point to make. It should be shown to everyone, so we could, as human beings, think how we could start treating each other as equals.


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