Welcome to French Toast Sunday’s new feature that is all about YOUR opinions. Talk It Out is designed to generate group discussion on specific movies, general topics and other burning questions plaguing the movie world. We want movie fans to unite and bring with them whatever it is they want to say. Keep reading to join in our discussion topic.
12 Years A Slave has had some of the highest praise of any films this year. As the release rolls out into more theaters across the country over the past few weeks more and more opinions have been coming in. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes provides the consensus: “It’s far from comfortable viewing, but 12 Years a Slave‘s unflinchingly brutal look at American slavery is also brilliant — and quite possibly essential — cinema.”
The movie tells the real life story of a born free man sold into slavery in his 30’s. Slate and Time have done in depth articles on the film, providing interesting perspectives about race and American ideals. Check them out here:
“’12 Years a Slave’ is based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life.”
Two weeks after Lindsay and I sat down together at the screener of 12 Years A Slave, we’ve had time to digest and sit on it while having in length discussions on the matter. We both thought the film was fine, but we found ourselves both underwhelmed based on the mass praise of the film. We just expected a bit more than what we got, which, while undoubtedly a brutal depiction of slavery, really added up to no more than a by-the-numbers approach to the story thematically. It features some fantastic performances but also some puzzling choices with the story or editing at times, and its share of hammy dialogue (specifically from Brad Pitt, for example). Maybe it’s an issue with expectations, but I can think of so many more ways I would have rather experienced this film than moving from “awful thing that happens” to “next awful thing”. I give credit for the film providing an unflinching view on the subject, but there’s not more to grasp onto beyond that. It’s hard to watch and there’s surely moments that are quite awe-inspiring, but is it really that brilliant if it doesn’t grind into the themes that are just sitting there under the surface waiting to be explored?
Listen to our more in depth breakdown of our issues with the film during our latest podcast.
Have you seen the film yet or do you want to see it? Do you think this is a lock for Best Picture? Think we’re dead wrong or are you in the minority with us disappointed viewers? And yeah, the men in this film sort of dominate the screen time, but how fantastic were Lupita Nyong’o and Sarah Paulson?! Feel free to let us know what you think or even leave a link to your review in the comments if you have already reviewed it on your personal blog.