An unflinching and accurate portrayal of slavery based on the memoir of Solomon Northup. Beautiful cinematography, great and very difficult performances... I particularly felt moved by the inclusion of work songs, where musical genres such as the blues originated from, and which, historically, helped bring relief amidst incredible hardships.
Apart from the regular stops on the landscapes, there is nothing surprising nor interest-grabbing in this piece where creativity is sadly again submitted to a main (and only ?) focus on classical story-telling. The scene between the main character and the weeping woman could be branded "oscar moment, please focus".
It clearly is McQueen's most political film, true Oscar-bait material (and rightfully so) that sure must be close to the heart of the director. An outstanding cast, efective script and beautiful cinematography allow for a nicely paced story that just grabs your attention at every single scene. After three films, McQueen is already one of the best, but I hope he doesn't forget his indie origins.
An unflinching and visceral movie, although somewhat overrated. At times, the violence aims to become less a representation of reality and more a voyeuristic spectacle. There are much better depictions of slavery and slave-life to be found.
Emotional and well-acted but ultimately disappointing. I've come to expect McQueen to be able to transcend the subjects of his films, unveiling a surprising or irrevocable truth. Perhaps that happens only when he authors his own material. This film did not rise beyond a straightforward dramatization. We might as well just read the original memoir, which is far more impactful and direct.