Extra Cinema: 12 Years A Slave (15)

Solomon meets slave owner Edwin Epps
Solomon meets slave owner Edwin Epps

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o

Director: Steve McQueen

Based on the autobiography of the same name by Solomon Northup, 12 Years A Slave follows Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who lives with his wife Anne (Kelsey Scott), daughter Margaret (Quvenzhane Wallis) and son Alonzo (Cameron Zeigler).

An encounter with two seemingly respectable gentlemen — Messrs Brown (Scoot McNairy) and Hamilton (Taran Killam) — changes Solomon’s life forever.

He wakes up in chains and learns he has been sold into slavery.

Theophilus Freeman (Paul Giamatti) takes delivery of Solomon and ignores pleas for leniency.

Solomon’s first master, Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), is kind — but fate delivers the lead character to sadistic Edwin Epps (Michael 
Fassbender).

Epps takes a shine to one of the slave girls, Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o), and Solomon is caught in the crossfire, finding a means to orchestrate escape with the help of an abolitionist called Bass (Brad Pitt).

12 Years A Slave is the deserved frontrunner for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars and it would be impossible to deny McQueen’s film.

Ejiofor breaks our hearts as an honest, decent man, who retains his humanity in the face of unspeakable cruelty. Nyong’o is equally eye-catching in her big screen debut while Fassbender simmers with rage and self-loathing.

Rating: 10/10