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October 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

There is not a single review that is less than ecstatic about the script, direction, and performances on display in 12 Years a Slave. “When a director who never ever blinks takes on a horrific subject, a nightmare in broad daylight is the inevitable result,” writes Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times. The director is Steve McQueen, who is at the center of acclaim for a work that Liam Lacey in the Toronto Globe and Mail calls “the film event of the year.” He writes, “Far from the push-button catharsis offered by most Hollywood redemption tales, the work is sober and deliberate, a mix of visceral intensity and artful design.” Several critics refer to a poignant line in the movie in which the principal character played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, that of a black man raised and educated in the North who is taken into slavery in the South, is told by a Canadian abolitionist played by Brad Pitt: “Your story is amazing and in no way good.” Comments Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal: “The film is amazing, and in every way good.” And Claudia Puig in USA Today concludes that the movie “is a mesmerizing period drama for the ages.” Nevertheless, many critics acknowledge that many moviegoers may find the movie’s brutality too gut-wrenching. “McQueen has made a film comparable to Schindler’s List — art that may be hard to watch, but which is an essential look at man’s inhumanity to man,” comments Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News. “12 Years a Slave isn’t the first movie about slavery in the United States,” writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times, “but it may be the one that finally makes it impossible for American cinema to continue to sell the ugly lies it’s been hawking for more than a century.”