Review | 12 Years A Slave

I went to see the highly anticipated and highly praised 12 Years A Slave. There is so much expectation on this film, it has award nominations coming out of its ears, so naturally I couldn’t wait to see it!

As always **SPOILER ALERT** Go watch the film then come back and read my review.

Firstly, this is a triumph of a film. It was powerful, moving, harrowing and at times, a difficult watch. The atrocities suffered by slaves in 19th Century America is disturbing, but all credit to Steve McQueen for tackling it in such an excellent way.

Chiwetel Ejiofor is brilliant as Solomon Northup. The pain and strength he shows in his portrayal makes you feel his anguish for days after watching the film. Near the end, there is a long close up shot of Solomon, his whole face fills the screen, he looks around silently, eventually looking down the lens right at you. It is so intense, I had to look away. I felt so guilty for witnessing Solomon’s life.

The violence suffered by the slaves, not just Solomon, is horrific. But I feel it needed to be shown. Films such as this shed light on a dark moment in America’s past and should be addressed in modern film to prevent such horrors happening again. When Patsey is being whipped at the hand of psychotic slave owner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), the whole cinema gasped at the visual. I simply couldn’t watch when Solomon was being ‘hanged’. The violence was so incredibly graphic but the shock of it made the film more powerful.

Fassbender was tremendous as Epps – If he doesn’t get the Oscar something has gone badly wrong somewhere. His character was utterly compelling – neurotic, paranoid, and so angry. When Brad Pitt waltzes in to challenge him, I was sure Epps was going to kill Solomon’s saviour.

Another excellent performance from Paul Dano, he really is one of my favourite actors and Benedict Cumberbatch also does well as the more ‘sympathetic’ slave owner.

All in all, this film is tremendous. All the praise that you keep hearing about it is completely justified. I keep telling my friends about it, imploring them to see it. So here is my advise to you – go see this film, its a work of art and will stay with you for a very long time.

Have you seen 12 Years a Slave? What did you think? Leave links and comments below as I’d love to have a read!

Rx

Review | Shame

Shame is the story of a sex addict.

Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan star in this utterly compelling drama about the life of broken siblings Brandon and Sissy.

Brandon is a slick executive working in New York with an all consuming obsession with sex, prostitutes and pornography. His whirlwind of a sister arrives to crash at his pad and pursue her career as a singer. This fragile relationship is key to the film and seeks to explain the extreme and erratic behaviour of the pair.

We’re not bad people. We just come from a bad place.

Michael Fassbender was truly brilliant in this film. Wandering around Brandon’s beautiful flat with the beautiful view and the beautiful women strewn over his bed, Fassbender simply highlights the ugly inner turmoil that consumes his character’s life. The most crushingly touching moment of this film comes when Brandon is unable to have sex with the one woman he actually cares for. The whole sequence was emotionally charged, choreographed expertly and perfectly executed – Fassbender was completely absorbing.

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The musical score is a triumph and helps tell the story as well as Fassbender does. In Brandon’s evening of debauchery as he starts to unravel the music was tremendous; the delicate, controlled and quiet violins contrast starkly with the sex on screen. The depth of the score ignites more passion than Brandon is enjoying; you end up pitying Brandon, his life, his addiction and his self-destructive revulsion.

But what I most loved about this film was that it wasn’t crass. A film about a sex addict could become a glorified porno but what director Steve McQueen manages to do is keep it all about the emotions involved. At times this is a difficult watch, but that is credit to the stellar performances from Fassbender and Mulligan and the superb direction of McQueen. The raw, painful scenes are the most compelling; this is a sad tale of modern times. Loneliness, isolation, family problems, our career-driven, busy, busy lives. It’s all echoed in the situation we find Brandon in. Whilst we’re not all sex addicts, ‘normal’ people all suffer these same emotions and burdens, they just find other means of escape.

I would really recommend Shame, it’s a wonderful film. But as a word of warning, maybe don’t watch it with your parents… There’s a lot of sex and a lot of Michael Fassbender’s penis. Just sayin’.

Have you seen Shame? What did you think to it?? Leave links and comments below!

Rx