Lincoln


This historical drama is not so much a biopic about President Abraham Lincoln as a look at a very specific time in his life, namely the weeks and months leading up to the vote to pass the 13th Amendment that would abolish slavery. At the time, the Civil War was still raging on, but we don’t see that much of the battlefield horrors during the film; most of it takes place in various rooms where politicians argue about issues.

This inevitably makes for a talkative and somewhat dry picture, but it remains engrossing and lively enough throughout. The period recreation seems impeccable, for once, and there’s much interest just in looking at all the work done on the costumes, the hair and makeup, the production design and whatnot, all of which are superbly shot.

Then there’s the screenplay by Tony Kushner, which almost takes the form of a thriller at times, as we find ourselves worrying about whether or not Lincoln and his team will be able to rally about the support necessary to pass the amendment, even we know through History that they will. Quite a feat! All of the scheming that takes place shows that politics are rarely all about ideals and that hopefully, the end justifies the means.

In any case, it’s hard not to believe in what Lincoln says, portrayed as he is by the brilliant Daniel Day-Lewis as an amazing orator with a truly commanding presence.

The cast also includes the likes of David Strathairn, Hal Holbrook and Tommy Lee Jones, who all deliver strong work. I particularly enjoyed the trio played by James Spader, John Hawkes and Tim Blake Nelson, who are given the mission to convince Democrats to vote with the Republicans, in ways that may or may not be legit. Then there’s Sally Field as Lincoln’s wife, plus Joseph Gordon-Levitt and little Gulliver McGrath as his sons, who each take part in the more personal parts of the film, which I found a bit weaker than the political stuff.

Altogether, “Lincoln” is undoubtedly a good film, if not classic Spielberg or anything.