Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lincoln - Movie Review

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, John Hawkes, Tim Blake Nelson, Hal Holbrook, Gloria Reuben, Bruce McGill, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael Stuhlbarg, Walton Goggins and Lee Pace.  Directed by Steven Spielberg.


Daniel Day-Lewis may be the best actor on the planet.

So, what else to say?  This movie captures nicely the galaxy of the man, the saint, the politician, the president.

This all takes place in the last four months of his life, when they're trying to get the 13th Amendment passed, banning slavery.  It's a behind-the-scenes look at the handshaking, promise-making, and compromising that go into getting anything done in DC.

Sally Field's really good as Mary Todd Lincoln, the grieving mother who does more harm than good in her role as First Lady; Tommy Lee Jones is great as Thaddeus Stevens, the Radical Republican who doesn't think the 13th Amendment goes far enough; and I also liked the three-man persuasion crew of James Spader, John Hawkes and Tim Blake Nelson, charged with finding some Democrats to help support the Amendment.

I appreciated the humanization of Lincoln here.  We see him mourn with his wife, dote upon his youngest son, glare at subordinates, spin homespun yarns as a passive-aggressive way of making his Cabinet listen to him.  I loved when Secretary of War Stanton interrupted him. "No! NO! You're about to tell a story!"

There's more I would have liked to have seen (Frederick Douglass, Stephen Douglas, Andrew Johnson, and Jefferson Davis are some of the players we never see) but this is the window that Spielberg wanted to focus on, and it's rich, rewarding, and never dull.  This could have felt like one of those period Oscar-bait "homework" movies, but I'd like to see it again down the road.

And I can't say enough about Daniel Day-Lewis. There's nothing he can't do.

1 comment:

Terry Ann said...

This screenplay was based on only 5 pages of Doris Kerns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals". It was a small window into a great man's life. I apprecated your review and agree. I'd like to see the "pre-qual" now.