Spielberg’s Lincoln is quite an accomplishment. The brutalities of the civil war along with the political acumen of our 16th president are masterfully portrayed in this cinematic experience. This film chronicles the last few months of the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. During this time, Lincoln’s life was consumed with ensuring that the 13th amendment (making slavery illegal) was passed and that the Civil War met its end.
Lincoln, despite being a movie based on history, feels very current. Spielberg throws the ruthlessness of war in your face up front and pushes forward, toward the sobering reality that is our country’s history, rooted in slavery. Daniel Day-Lewis does such a fantastic job portraying our politically savvy, down-home-awesome leader that, from now on, when I hear the name Abraham Lincoln, I’ll likely picture Mr. Day-Lewis’ face.
Day-Lewis’ Lincoln comes across physically awkward and fragile while also soft spoken and powerful. This presentation of our 16thpresident seems almost flawless, though, I suppose I don’t have much to compare it to. Day-Lewis is instantly likable on screen and his character reveals himself to be a bit of a man’s man and intrinsically likable--admirable even. There is no question that this man deserves an award—all of them—for this performance. No question.
Sally field plays the complex and emotionally dark First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln. She too comes to the table with an award-winning caliber performance. There is no doubt that you will feel her pain when she approaches her husband, the president of a nation in the midst of civil war, to inform him that her son will not fight in this war because she cannot bear to lose another child. She surely cannot do it again, as it was a bona fied miracle she got through it the first time. Field’s outstanding performance only elevates the movie-going experience that comes with this film.
In the film’s plot, it seems Mr. Lincoln’s personal life is experiencing the same upheaval his political world is feeling as the civil war extinguishes lives each day it goes on. As cruelty shall have it, the passing of the 13thamendment, which would outlaw slavery, hangs precariously in the balance. Our faithful, likable and admirable president has no choice, but to pull out all the stops to usher his country in to a new age. Watching all of this transpire under the directorial eye of Steven Spielberg is nothing short of fascinating.
Indeed Lincoln is an enjoyable film; a project where, clearly, each player was deeply committed to creating an up-close, biting and authentic view of the months before the death of one of our greatest leaders. Nevertheless, there were moments when the story dragged. While I liked that we got an intimate glimpse into the world of political spin during a pivotal time in the development of or nation, sometimes these scenes could go on several moments too long. My mind wandered a couple of times and unfortunately, that broke up the magic that the film conjures. These hiccups, however, were not detrimental to the overall effect of the movie.
James Spader as the Lawyer and lobbyist, W.N. Bilbo who works in the shadows for the president (intricately involved in the passing of the 13th Amendment) is a pleasure to watch. His quirky character really jazzed things up when the undeniably somber story line hung heavy in the theater.
While I would have liked a little more insight into the personal life of Abraham Lincoln, the man, I enjoyed this movie. A winning combination of quality film making, story telling and acting, result in an inspirational, memorable and genuine movie going experience.
Lincoln (2012) – B+
B+ = Give this one a go for sure. You will most likely enjoy it and if /when it comes on cable, you will probably watch it through to the end regardless of your starting point.