“12 Years a Slave” tells the true historical account of Solomon Northrup, a free black man living in Syracuse New York in 1841. Solomon, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, works as a prominent violinist to support his family. One day, he is offered a job in Washington DC. While there, Solomon is kidnapped, sold into slavery and taken to New Orleans where his identity is stripped away.
Solomon ends up on the plantation of Edwin Epps, played by Michael Fassbender. Epps has the reputation of being the worst slave owner in New Orleans, and rightfully so. He is a raging alcoholic who viciously beats and whips his slaves. Along with his horrid wife, played by Sarah Paulson, they force the slaves to have midnight dance parties for their enjoyment after the slaves worked for hours in the cotton fields.
Throughout the movie, Solomon struggles to hold onto his identity and return to his family in Syracuse. During his harrowing experience, he encounters Patsy, played by Lupita Nyong’o, a tragic young slave girl who is the object of Epps’ affection. Solomon’s journey is a difficult one to watch, but he a never loses faith that he will one day be reunited with his family. The compelling story is reason enough to see this movie, and the incredible acting is the icing on the cake. Fassbender and Paulson are so realistically cruel and terrifying, that the anxiety they create makes viewers empathize completely with Solomon.
Nyong’o, who made her film debut, is deserving of every award that she receives. Her powerful portrayal shows the innocence and devastation of a young girl whose only fault was being too desirable.
Ejiofor’s moving performance as Solomon breaks the hearts of the audience while also giving them an intense glimpse into the dark reality of our nation’s history. In every scene, Ejiofor shows the determination and strength that this real life counterpart faced over the 12 years of enslavement.
Overall, this movie deserves the highest award for its amazing performances and outstanding cast. In our opinion, this is our bet for Best Film of the year. We give it five out of five stars.