British director Steve McQueen has a penchant for brilliantly directed, magnificently acted films with subject matters that are unbelievably unpleasant to watch (see for example: Hunger, Shame). With the powerful weight of history behind this new effort, however, it becomes virtually impossible to look away. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Kinky Boots, Inside Man) is magnetic as Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York who is abducted and sold into slavery in the Deep South. Based on Northup's biography, this brutally honest film addresses slavery in a manner that's never been seen before on screen. It isn't easy to watch, but it's an incredible achievement. 134 minutes R.