There are some movies you know you're only going to see just once. The viewing experience is too overpowering, overwhelming, disturbing, and transformative for you to go through it again. That's the feeling you may have after seeing 12 Years a Slave, a film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, Benedict Cumberbatch as William Ford, Michael Fassbender as Edwin Epps, and newcomer Lupita Nyong'o as Patsey, directed by Steve McQueen.
To say that this movie was onerous to watch from beginning to end is an understatement. It's an unblinking, unforgiving look at America's darkest time period. Based on a true story, Northup is a free man living in Saratoga, New York, in 1841, with his wife and two adorable children. While dining with two men with whom he thought he'd do business, he awakens the next morning in chains. He's quickly shipped off to New Orleans and sold, where he is forced to work as a slave for, you guessed it, the next 12 years.