12 Years a Slave Reviews

  • This harrowing story of the worst of humanity is deceptively simple and straightforward. 12 Years a Slave is an essential film for all to see.

    Julian Roman — MovieWeb

  • 12 Years a Slave is a movie about a life that gets taken away, and that's why it lets us touch what life is.

    Owen Gleiberman — Entertainment Weekly

  • The genius of 12 Years a Slave is its insistence on banal evil, and on terror, that seeped into souls, bound bodies and reaped an enduring, terrible price.

    Manohla Dargis — New York Times

  • The harrowing 12 Years a Slave is a mesmerizing period drama for the ages.

    Claudia Puig — USA Today

  • McQueen doesn't go in for a lot of flash edits or self-conscious visual flourishes to put viewers at ease; rather, he invites the audience to sit with him as he gazes, amazed, at man's inhumanity to man ...

    Ann Hornaday — Washington Post

  • Other movies and books have gone here, but few so far and with such overwhelming clarity of purpose.

    Ty Burr — Boston Globe

  • Aside from a characteristically nuanced lead performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor... it's a picture that stays more than a few safe steps away from anything so dangerous as raw feeling.

    Stephanie Zacharek — Village Voice

  • A harrowing, unforgettable drama that doesn't look away from the reality of slavery and, in so doing, helps us all fully, truly confront it.

    Joe Neumaier — New York Daily News

  • It seems certain to transcend the movie realm and become a new reference point in contemporary culture-a defining vision of what slavery looked like, and felt like, in the U.S. before the Civil War.

    Joe Morgenstern — Wall Street Journal

  • Every scene of 12 Years a Slave, and almost every shot, conveys some penetrating truth about America's original sin.

    Chris Vognar — Dallas Morning News

  • 12 Years a Slave is easily the greatest feature film ever made about American slavery.

    David Denby — New Yorker

  • A film this good, and this quietly distinctive in its style, is always welcome.

    Michael Phillips — Chicago Tribune

  • Slavery here is not only a great moral darkness but a sweeping canvas for depicting the emotional deformities of the people who enforced and exploited the practice.

    J. R. Jones — Chicago Reader

  • It speaks to the courage and resilience of one man, the savagery of many, and the potential, for both good and for ill, in us all.

    Steven Rea — Philadelphia Inquirer

  • The film is both brutal to watch and stunning to contemplate, powerfully challenging audiences - particularly white audiences - to examine their consciences.

    Colin Covert — Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • "12 Years a Slave" lays out an institution so twisted and wrong that its honest portrayal has been avoided for centuries. Yes, it's dark and brutal. It needs to be.

    Tom Long — Detroit News

  • Slavery is revealed for the unrelenting horror that it was. About time.

    Bill Goodykoontz — Arizona Republic

  • If the best films hold you in a captive vise, entertain you, keep you spellbound and teach you something at the same time, then 12 Years a Slave is outstanding-brave, courageous and unforgettable.

    Rex Reed — New York Observer

  • This epic account of an unbreakable soul makes even Scarlett O'Hara's struggles seem petty by comparison.

    Peter Debruge — Variety

  • A brutally powerful and emotionally devastating film that takes great pains to rip any lingering vestiges of romanticism from America's most shameful institution.

    Lou Lumenick — New York Post

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