12 Years A Slave

The 38th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival is coming to a close, and Indiewire has been on the ground to survey the endless array of cinematic selections that have screened at the event over the past week and a half. In case you missed any reviews, we have compiled a list of all the films we saw below. Read our takes on the various movies that are sure to be talked about once fall movie season kicks into full swing.

"12 Years A Slave"

More than a powerful elegy, "12 Years a Slave" is a mesmerizing triumph of art and polemics: McQueen turns a topic rendered distant by history into an experience that, short of living through the terrible era it depicts, makes you feel as if you've been there.

"At Berkeley"

"At Berkeley" reminds us that a Berkeley education is a valuable asset, but also a valuable experience. Surveying the Berkeley lawns, Wiseman wants us to see how pleasant that experience can be. Going beyond Wiseman’s doc, you get a sense that fewer people will be on the lawn in the coming years. They will be too busy paying for it.

"August: Osage County"

Condensing the material into just over two hours and taking cues from Letts' screenplay, Wells services the play mainly by sitting back and letting the A-listers lead the way. The result is a distinctly uneven but imminently watchable theatrical showcase in which cinematic and stagy devices go head to head with no clear winner.

"Bad Words"

Taking cues from Andrew Dodge's Blacklist screenplay, "Bad Words" has a caustic wit that puts its comedy in league with "Bad Santa," but just barely delivers on the cruel intensions of the premise without deepening it, as the aforementioned precedent does so well. 


A muddled revenge drama about family ties and traumatic experiences, the movie wallows in its characters' anger and frustrations but never manages to organize them into a compelling whole. Despite a strong cast and shadowy mysteries that deepen the plot, "The Bastards" creates the sour impression of a half-formed work.


By keeping the polemical chatter to a minimum, it's a disconcerting look at a battle that many of its fighters can't recall why they're fighting in the first place. 

"Blue is the Warmest Color"

Though nobody states it outright, "Blue is the Warmest Color" elegantly tussles with the idea of reconciling desire with other factors involved in the cultivation of healthy companionship.

"Can A Song Save Your Life?"

Moving along at a reasonably engaging pace, it foregrounds the actor's investment in the scenario and makes it relatable.

"Closed Curtain"

Tough to categorize but weighted with meaning, Panahi's latest fascinating defiance of the constraints placed on him illustrates his deep commitment to the art form at all costs -- including, perhaps, his own sanity.

"Dallas Buyers Club"

To its credit, "Dallas Buyers Club" provides McConaughey with sufficient room to gradually make his onscreen persona more palatable, but like the character's battle to survive, it's no easy proposition. 

Whatever happens with it, "Eleanor Rigby" at the very least succeeds at depicting the ambiguity of communication embedded in every relationship. 

"The Dog"

As sometimes happens with long-gestating non-fiction projects where the footage keeps piling up, "The Dog" contains more content than the filmmakers need for their story, and it sometimes suffers from attempts to stuff unnecessary details into an otherwise fascinating overview of Wojtowicz's plight.