12 YEARS A SLAVE

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES -

Steve McQueen ( Chi­we­tel Ejio­for, Lupita Ny­ong’o, Michael Fass­ben­der, Sarah Paul­son, Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch, Brad Pitt and Paul Gia­matti

Di­rec­tor: Star­ring:

OUR story, it is amaz­ing,” a man says to Solomon Northup ( Chi­we­tel Ejio­for) to­wards the end of “and in no good way”.

The film is adapted from an 1850s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy by Northup, a suc­cess­ful African- Amer­i­can mu­si­cian who was ab­ducted in 1841 and sold as a slave, be­com­ing the prop­erty of plan­ta­tion owner Ford ( Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch).

Though he is what passes for a “de­cent” slave owner in this era – if there could be such a thing – Ford is pow­er­less to stop one of his em­ploy­ees putting Solomon’s head in a noose.

Solomon has barely es­caped the or­deal when he is plunged into another as Ford is obliged to sell him to cruel cot­ton farmer Epps ( Michael Fass­ben­der), proud of his rep­u­ta­tion for “break­ing down the bel­liger­ent”.

Epps is as de­ranged as he is mer­cu­rial, and his icily dis­ap­prov­ing wife ( Sarah Paul­son) is hardly a steady­ing in­flu­ence.

Though Solomon faces the full on­slaught of Epps’ wrath on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, so too will Pat­sey ( a stun­ning fea­tured- act­ing de­but from Lupita Ny­ong’o), a pretty young slave upon whom her owner is dan­ger­ously fix­ated.

It is no con­dem­na­tion of to call it a film that has to be fully en­dured to be truly ap­pre­ci­ated.

Michael Fass­ben­der, Lupita Ny­ong’o and Chi­we­tel Ejio­for star in

Di­rec­tor Steve McQueen does not back away for a mo­ment from the vast ar­ray of harsh re­al­i­ties de­picted here. While the in­tensely graphic na­ture of some se­quences means it is cer­tainly not a work for the faint- hearted, it is al­ways a work for any­one who has a heart.

All per­for­mances rise to the oc­ca­sion de­manded by such ex­act­ing sub­ject mat­ter.

Ejio­for leads from the front with a con­trolled, un­fail­ingly cred­i­ble read­ing of what Northup must have gone through.

A film as com­plex, com­pelling and con­fronting as this not only reignites a fa­mil­iar sense of out­rage about a shame­ful past. It also pro­motes a fresh un­der­stand­ing of that ter­ri­ble time.

Minds will be opened, even changed, by what they see and feel. Best de­scribed as a love let­ter to mod­ern- day Rome and its time- hon­oured track record of ex­cess, this ar­rest­ingly op­u­lent pro­duc­tion is a hot favourite to win the next Best For­eign Lan­guage Film Os­car.

Strolling aim­lessly through the pass­ing pa­rade of pret­ti­ness is Ital­ian au­thor Jep Gam­bardella ( Toni Servillo). Though he hasn’t writ­ten any­thing of note in al­most 40 years, Jep stays busy as only the idle rich can. The spirit of Fellini’s im­mor­tal master­piece

pulses away strongly in the best scenes. Though some will be frus­trated by the lack of di­rect story, most will for­give in grat­i­tude for the over­dose of pure splen­dour. GRUDGE MATCH ( M) A mes­meris­ingly dread­ful com­edy in which two age­ing stars cash in on well- known roles.

Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stal­lone play bit­ter ex- box­ers coaxed back into the ring to set­tle a long- stand­ing feud. If this movie was a cham­pi­onship bout, the crowd would be pelt­ing fruit into the ring from the early rounds.

The big fight at the end is a grotesque fizzer, two old fo­geys punch­ing the heck out of each other in a less- than- con­vinc­ing fash­ion.

It’s time some­one locked DeNiro in a screen­ing room and showed him the amaz­ing work he once did. It’s also time to send Stal­lone back to the se­cret med­i­cal ex­per­i­ment from which he ap­pears to have es­caped. An­chor­man 2 Amer­i­can Hus­tle Au­gust: Osage County The Book Thief Car­rie Frozen One Chance Philom­ena Rail­way Man Sav­ing Mr Banks The Wolf of Wall Street Wal­ter Mitty 12 Years a Slave

PER­FECT: 12 Years A Slave.

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