Working with his regular cinematographer, Sean Bobbitt, McQueen maintains an emotionally-wrenching momentum. In one surreal encounter, Northup and his fellow slaves share a moment of brief respite with a band of Native Indians.
Sarah Paulson is a standout in the supporting role of the insanely jealous mistress. But none of his co-stars take prominence over Chiwetel Ejiofor who manages the physical and emotional demands of his character with grace and gravitas. There is no doubting Steve McQueen’s commitment, compassion and craftsmanship. Which is to say, 12 Years A Slave is essential viewing.
Direction: Steve McQueen Actors: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o Rating: *****
(Outstanding ***** Very Good **** Good *** Average ** Poor *)