11 January 2014

12 Years a Slave, 2013 - ★★★★

McQueen continues to be a brutally honest director, seemingly unafraid to do whatever it takes to tell a story in the most effective way. When other directors push things as far as they can it's often to be controversial but here, as in Shame (and perhaps Hunger), it's only to aid the story.

It's hard to pick faults with something that is not only exceptionally well made but also incredibly important. All of the film looks amazing, nearly every performance magnificent and yet something didn't quite connect for me. I've spent the last few days trying to work out why I didn't feel the same way as everybody else or even how I felt after Shame. When reading other reviews I noticed lots of them mentioning how slavery hasn't really been covered much by film and I was surprised to find that this is actually true. Even if slavery hasn't been portrayed in a significant way before, it feels like it has (in a general way and not a direct criticism of how it's portrayed here) and of course we all know that slavery is bad. Perhaps my problem was that towards the end of the film I knew how bad things had become and yet they continued. It may be incredibly distasteful and inappropriate to say that the later scenes drag on a bit, and perhaps it was intentional, but they do, and in the full (free) preview screening many people were checking their phones.

It's also perhaps unfair to judge on film on what it isn't but the story told in the handful of captions and the end sounded like it would be a lot more interesting than the previous 12 years.

January 11, 2014 at 05:22PM

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