Chiwetel Ejiofor and guest at TIFF 2013
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton & Anika Noni Rose
'Half Of A Yellow Sun' Premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, 9/8/13
12 Years a Slave Press Conference, 2013 TIFF, 9/7/2013 [x]
Steve McQueen and Chiwetel Ejiofor at TIFF 2013
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Steve McQueen at TIFF 2013
Chiwetel Ejiofor at TIFF 2013
"This is a story about one of the harshest structures that’s ever been created in the history of the world and it is somebody trying to survive that with their mind in intact and they do. And I feel like that’s an extraordinary thing to see, to witness and to be a part of."
To describe even one moment of this movie as a “kick” would be obscene. It evokes the lives of African-American slaves as the nightmare it was, with violence spun into a daily fabric of brutality, one that’s neither heightened nor exaggerated, just scarily real. Forget the earnest and epochal (but, in hindsight, not really raw enough) TV mini-series Roots, forget the baroque exploitation of Mandingo, and — despite the overstated accolades it received — forget Django. As a drama of the slave experience, 12 Years a Slave renders them all irrelevant. It is a new movie landmark of cruelty and transcendence.
12 Years a Slave lets us stare at the primal sin of America with open eyes, and at moments it is hard to watch, yet it’s a movie of such humanity and grace that at every moment, you feel you’re seeing something essential. It is Chiwetel Ejiofor’s extraordinary performance that holds the movie together, and that allows us to watch it without blinking. He plays Solomon with a powerful inner strength, yet he never soft-pedals the silent nightmare that is Solomon’s daily existence. The ultimate cruelty he’s subjected to isn’t the beatings or the humiliation. It is that he is ripped from his family, blockaded away from all that he is. - Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly (x)