Lincoln is a tad deceiving as a title; this isn't so much a biopic as it is a chronicle of President Abraham Lincoln's (Daniel Day-Lewis) struggle to get the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution passed while simultaneously ending the Civil War, the bloodiest war Earth had seen up to that point. For those of you who are not history buffs (America, I'm looking at you), the 13th Amendment made slavery illegal in the United States. Sure, Lincoln had freed all the slaves with his Emancipation Proclamation, but the legal grounds by which he did so were shaky, at best. Lincoln wanted to ensure that his actions had some sort of long-lasting effect that would not be overturned in a court of appeals. It's a pretty cool thing to be the guy who freed the slaves, but nobody wants to be the guy who freed the slaves only long enough for them to bleed in battle for him.
|Even a great hat can't distract from that, Mr. President|
|"What will it take to get your vote? A threesome is not off the table."|
The acting in Lincoln is, not surprisingly, excellent. Daniel Day-Lewis is THE thespian stud of our times, and he brought his A-game here. Day-Lewis went against the traditional interpretation of the character by making him slouch, feel old, and speak with a soft tone, but he also managed to demand all of the attention in every scene he was in. As luck would have it, that is practically every single scene in the film. I think some of my favorite moments were the scenes where he relied on nonverbals. This is a fairly talky character, so having the quiet moments as highlights is just a testament to Day-Lewis' acting prowess.
|Example: right here, Lincoln was this close to killing everyone in a 30 foot radius|
Sally Field played Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln, who is known historically for being a bit crazy. Field managed that well enough, but I didn't think her role was anything special.
|Buck up, Sally. Sulking is not attractive in any time period.|
|Spader, realizing that this role has nothing to do with deviant sex acts|
|"What if I tried pouting more?"|
Lincoln was the result of director Steven Spielberg teaming up with Tony Kushner, king of the difficult-subject-screenplay. With regards to the direction, Spielberg nailed all the technical aspects. Design, costumes, filling the cast with nary a bad actor, etc. --- Spielberg is too big of a director to accept anything but the best in these regards. While he has never been the strongest director in terms of cinematography, Spielberg still managed to snag several memorable shots of an American icon.
I think Kushner did a solid job with the plot and the dialogue. Both Lincoln and Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) had some fantastic lines, and transforming this political issue into an interesting story was an impressive feat. Lincoln is missing something, though. I want to say that it is something immaterial, like "heart," but I can do better than that. This is a smart script, no doubt. It is just not an emotional one. American culture has reached a point where racism is justly vilified. It definitely still exists, but racists are generally acknowledged as assholes, as they should be.
|"Amend that. It should read 'total fucking assholes'"|
|"You act like a little culture will kill you!"|
I was expecting a lot from Lincoln, and only got most of what I hoped for. This is technically a better film that Spielberg's last effort, War Horse, but that movie drew me in, despite my objections. Lincoln is more cerebral, but leaves emotions at the door, and that turned out to ultimately be a mistake. Even without something tugging at my heartstrings, it is hard to dismiss Daniel Day-Lewis reinventing an American icon. With all the good and the not-quite-bad, Lincoln gets