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“Lincoln” – Review (POSITIVE)

November 14, 2012

Steven Spielberg’s passion project about Abraham Lincoln goes as far back as 1999, when he locked the film rights to Doris Kearns Goodwin unreleased book, Team of Rivals. His first choice to play our countries 16th president was British thesp and all around super-actor, Daniel Day-Lewis. Day-Lewis had declined the role the first time it was offered to him, worried that he could never do the role justice. I’m extremely happy to report that not only am I grateful to see Daniel Day-Lewis in the role, but he gave the performance of Lincoln greater than any justice he might have feared in the first place.

The film focuses on the beginning stages of President Lincoln’s (Day-Lewis) second term in office. The year, 1865, the month, January, it was probably one of the most heart-pounding and nail-biting days of President Lincolns career; trying to pass the famous 13th Amendment. The Civil War is at it’s all time high, Lincoln believed that the cure to the countries illness of war was the pass of this amendment, ending slavery was the medicine, the questions was, could he convince the people to take it. With at leas twenty votes need from the house to pass the amendment, Lincoln seeks help from Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) to help lead the house into the right direction.

With all that is going on, the movie doesn’t try to glorify the legendary aspect of Lincoln, it doesn’t exploit him as this god-like person, but more importantly a man. He was a man that had a charming disposition, his presence was fatherly to all Americans, he would sit back and tell a story to appease is fellow peers; he was simply a good man. He was a man that was loved by mostly everyone he’s worked with, and was a beloved family man. Sure, the movie throws in the mild conflicts of his personal life, his absent-minded wife Mary Todd (Sally Field), the loss of their youngest, Willie, and young Robert Lincoln (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who wants to earn the respect and support from his father to enlist in the Union army.

It’s interesting timing for this movies release, and also the subject matter it decides to focus on. There were so many aspects to President Lincoln’s career we could’ve looked at, Doris Kearns book focuses on the entire career of Lincoln, the passage of the 13th amendment was just a fraction of the book. Today, we just came off a long, grueling election, president Obama is now entering his second term and you can’t help but wonder about the certain similarities the movies focus is and today’s political debates for things such Medicare. The movie shows us that certain measures were taken to gain votes, hiring lobbyist, having them pull of some shady deals, and so on. Granted, I’m sure the movie intention wasn’t to stir up the pot about today’s political scuffle, but it does make you think. If Lincoln were alive today, he wouldn’t recognize the Republican Party at the slightest bit.

Spielberg’s “Lincoln” is classic example of a master class actor’s workshop come true. We’re given such a rich ensemble of actors, portraying these real life figures as valid as history intended for us to remember. The notable performances, aside from Daniel Day-Lewis, who is a shoe-in for best actor, go to Tommy Lee Jones & Sally Field. These actors have reached a fantastic peak in their careers and you can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the sheer truthfulness to their roles, especially to Jones, who in my opinion is the scene-stealer, and should more than likely be recognized by the Academy for his supporting role.

The movie ends with a strain of melancholy, it’s saddening even by today’s standard how tragic it was that Lincoln was taken away so early, he came so close to heal the wounds of the war and was stricken from any sort of possibility for more change. Still, thanks in part to a extraordinary performance from Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln” is a witty, dignified portrait of the American icon that immerses the audience in its world and entertains even as it informs, not to mention it’s one of Spielberg’s best directed films in a long time.

GRADE: A

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One Comment leave one →
  1. russel permalink
    November 14, 2012 3:55 pm

    great!

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