Two things I know for sure: Steve McQueen will never disappoint; and 12 Years a Slave is an Amazing film. I laughed at Bernard because he was crying, but I certainly made the wet spots in the corners of my eyes known as well.
It was pure. Nothing was added. Because of my strong belief and trust in McQueen’s vision, I knew exactly what to expect: a film carried by the outstanding talent of cast consisting of heavy hitters like Michael Fassbender, Paul Giamati, and the absolutely amazing Chiwetel Ejiofor whose career I’ve been following since Amistad, as well as actors off my radar, but now deep under my skin like Lupita Nyong’o. It was the actors who brought the emotion, not the score, though it, too, was well done. Lupita Nyong’o’s performance was worthy of every tear and applause from the crowd. Looking back while it’s still fresh in my mind, I can’t easily remember anything that was even visually stunning, though I’m sure there was plenty. But I remember the acting. I remember forgetting it was Chiwetel, Michael, Adepero Oduye, Sarah Paulson. I saw who they were for those two hours, and heard them loud enough to be moved and angered.
Many times while watching, I wanted to shout to those around me who cheered for what they saw as a victory, but was nothing close. It’s a film that allows you (by “you” I mean “me”) to see into the mind and conditioning of those around you. Much like I do most movies that deal with race relations, Django Unchained being the last, I applied it to what I see these days. And was not happy with what I saw. I love when we’re forced to hold up a mirror, and fight and debate and argue, and possibly all be semi-right in the end.
In the restroom immediately after, I was drying my hands and the white man drying his hands beside me sparked a 20 minute conversation about the film. Of course it began with “what did you think?” We moved on to talk about Fassbender originally debating the role because of his fear of being hated by a large group of people. I brought up, jokingly, how Black folks are just beginning to like Danny Glover after his role in The Color Purple, and we laughed, but that was the beginning of something great the movie brought about: dialogue on race and entertainment between people who can actually make a difference.
(see this immediately after reading this post: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG4ytB4z-WE)
This film will spark much discourse without a doubt. Just 3 minutes into it, and I was already leaning in o my neighbor asking questions, thoughts and opinions. I’d like to form a circle to talk about the characters, the implications, the intentions, the attitudes of the real people in the film, the leadership of Solomon Northup (aka Platt) vs. the leadership of others who have been faced with similar situations.
In all, this film was absolutely amazing. Steve McQueen, you, sir, have done it again. Congratulations, Cast!