Lincoln – Review

by Ken B.

Lincoln, clocking in at 150 minutes, may be long to some. In fact, that’s where most of the criticism for the film comes from. I will admit, it does seem longer than 150 minutes, but I’m not calling that a bad thing. It moves slowly, allowing you to become immersed in its world, and a greater appreciation for its existence.

The title Lincoln may be misleading. It would be more aptly titled The Story of the Vote of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution with Occasional Scenes featuring Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. But still, that’s not really a complaint.

Lincoln is directed by Steven Spielberg, and it’s clear that his work is of this. The screenplay is written by Tony Kushner, who previously collaborated with Spielberg on Munich, and the script is based (extremely loosely, apparently) off the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln written by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

The story runs from January – April, 1865. President Lincoln (DANIEL DAY-LEWIS) is at work attempting to get the 13th Amendment passed through the U.S. House of Representatives, and he needs help. Even if every Republican in the House votes “yes”, they’re still short some, so he recruits members of his cabinet to see if any Democrats will vote against what would have been the status quo for their party.

And the president’s private life is a little shaky, too. His oldest son, Robert’s (JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT) desire to join the Union army brings a tension between them, and Abe himself attempts to cope with the mental instability of his wife Mary Todd Lincoln (SALLY FIELD).

Day-Lewis’ performance as the Great Emancipator is nothing short of fantastic, but I can’t help but feel the simple fact that he played Abraham Lincoln and never killed one vampire was enough for AMPAS’ attention, regardless of his quality.

And sometimes in movies, when your lead puts on a spectacular show, everyone else feels lesser in importance. No such  case here. The cast list contains very talented/well known names (David Straitharn, James Spader, Tommy Lee Jones, and S. Epatha Merkerson), and they all bring the A-game, and can do so because the script is so well written.

Lincoln will be in a top 10 list lock for many reviewers this year (this one included) because of the talent behind and in front of the camera being stellar. The last couple months of the year are a gold mine for movies, and it is safe to bet that Lincoln will be one of the more remembered 2012 Oscar season releases. This title, in summary, is highly recommended for everything moving in a hard-worked sense, and no truly misguided plot points. The slow brewed historical drama may, as I said before, be too long for many people of the blockbuster season with its talky scenes and absence of half-hour long explosions, but for those who don’t mind, there’s really no excuse not to watch it. A highlight of the year, Lincoln is a picture to be admired.

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