Sunday’s Review 28: 12 years a slave

Chiwetel Ejiofor

I know it’s not really Sunday, but I thought relevant to wait on the Oscars’ results before I said anything. 12 years a slave was nominated for 9 Oscars and ended up with 3: Best performance by an actress in a supporting role for Lupita Nyong’o, Best Writing, adapted Screenplay and… Best motion Picture of the year. It the latter I’m going to comment, the first two being rightly awarded, in my opinion.

For those who have no idea what this movie is about, it’s an adaptation of an autobiography of Solomon Northup who is telling us about his 12 years of slavery. His situation of free man, abducted to be sold as a slave, wanting justice but wondering why he deserves freedom more than those who were born slaves is interesting. But that’s not what the movie is about (if we don’t count the 10 last minutes). It’s about a man being a slave. For twelve years. This film is well made, beautiful enough, on a rough and emotional matter, with quite convincing actors (all of them, in fact) but that is it. There is no originality in the adaptation, no new creativity in the directing, no new concept in the photography, nothing special really.

One couldn’t say that it’s a bad movie but I would have expected less enthusiasm for a motion picture that has nothing particular to bring to the table. I feel Steve McQueen (the one of Shame and Hunger, not this one) – who, by the way, knows how to put Michael Fassbender at his best, or worst, depending if you are talking about his acting or the characters he is portraying – played clever but hadn’t really a winning hand. But what do I know, I am not the Oscar Academy! The only thing I have the legitimacy to say is that I was disappointed. I am afraid the movie got rave reviews because it was the politically correct thing to do, even if it still deserves quite good reviews.

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