In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man and a violin artist. He has a happy and peaceful life with his wife and two children in New York until he was kidnapped by con-men who sold him into slavery.
12 Years a Slave is a film of searing sincerity and insight, whose central characters are drawn with real complexity. McQueen's third film doesn't just slide slavery under the microscope, it holds it there.
The end result has momentum and meaning, and slides in amidst McQueen's excellent efforts; the only thing missing, particularly from a director known for his primal jolts and punishing journeys, is the visceral reaction.