I finally went and watched Steve McQueen’s latest film “12 years a slave”. McQueen (the director, no relation to the actor from the 1960s) made two previous films, “Hunger” and “Shame” which, like this one, are complex portraits of male martyrdom. “Shame” veered a bit too close to melodrama for me and “Hunger” had a flawless first half that was followed by a flawed second half. I think 12 years a slave is McQueen’s strongest work yet.
Before going to see the film, I sought out some negative reviews to give me a sense of the film’s shortcomings. After watching the film though, I think most of the criticisms were off base. I’m going to go through my defence of the film. It isn’t flawless, and I’ll get to my issues with the film, but overall I think it is well worth your time. (spoilers follow).