Based on Solomon Northup's memoir of the same name (available online many places including here, the film is often harrowing, and a discomforting experience that stays with you after you leave the darkness of the cinema. But it's an important story, and one well worth watching. It will be powerful still on a small screen at home, but is a film that does especially well with the big screen at the movies.
In 1841 Solomon Northup was a free man living in Saratoga, New York with his wife and children. He was duped to take a trip to Washington for work, and from there kidnapped into slavery and transported to New Orleans. I had no idea that people were kidnapped from the North and taken to the South as slaves. Solomon lived and worked on several plantations during his 12 years of slavery, generally in the poorest and most degrading of conditions. His treatment by even the benevolent slaveholders is appalling. It's an incredible story, an incredible life, and all the more incredible because it was true. We see the lives of other slaves too of course, people who were born into that life, and died within it.
This is a very strong movie. The performances are all very good, and I think Lupita Nyong'o well deserved her Oscar as Best Supporting Actress, and she looked particularly gorgeous in that lovely blue frock at the ceremony.
Not one for young kids
some scenes are particularly brutal