Lincoln

"Excellent"

Lincoln Review


A historic epic from Steven Spielberg carries a lot of baggage, but he surprises us with a remarkably contained approach to an iconic figure. What's most unexpected is that this is a political drama, not a biopic. It's a long, talky movie about back-room deal-making on a very big issue: ending slavery in America. It also has one of the most intelligent, artful scripts of the past year, plus a remarkably wry central performance.

Daniel Day-Lewis constantly grounds Abraham Lincoln in his earthy humanity, good humour and tenacious desire to do the right thing, no matter what it takes. The film essentially covers just one month in which Lincoln works to outlaw slavery before ending four years of civil war. Secretary of State Seward (Strathairn) reluctantly supports this plan, enlisting three shady negotiators (Spader, Nelson and Hawkes) to convince wavering members of Congress to vote in favour of a constitutional amendment. Meanwhile at home, Lincoln is under pressure from his wife Mary (Field) to keep their oldest son Robert (Gordon-Levitt) off the battlefield.

All of this political wrangling makes the film feel like a 19th century version of The West Wing, and Kushner's script crackles with wit, nuance and passion, clearly echoing today's political debates about issues like gun control and human rights. We find ourselves wishing that our own politicians were this creative about getting the votes they need on important issues. This meaty approach gives the cast terrific dialog to bite into, although Spielberg never lets anyone run riot with scenery-chomping antics. The closest is probably Jones, as the fiery anti-slavery supporter Thaddeus Stevens. He's terrific in this role. And Field shines too in as the spiky Mary. Even if she's about a decade too old for the character, she brings intelligence and emotion to every scene.

But this is Day-Lewis' film, and he takes an unusually restrained approach that catches us off guard. In fact, the whole film has a subtlety to it that makes it both involving and provocative, augmented by expert work from the entire crew. It might be overlong and office-bound, taking rather a long time to work up much energy and hedging away from the more iconic moments, but Spielberg beautifully tells the story without sentimentality, never manipulating emotions or over-egging the message. Which makes it all the more potent.

Rich Cline



Lincoln

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 150 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th November 2012

Box Office USA: $182.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $275.3M

Budget: $50M

Distributed by: Dreamworks Pictures

Production compaines: DreamWorks, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Reliance Entertainment, Participant Media, Dune Entertainment, Amblin Entertainment, The Kennedy/Marshall Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 223 Rotten: 26

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, as Mary Todd Lincoln, as William Seward, as Robert Lincoln, as WN Bilbo, as Preston Blair, as Thaddeus Stevens, as Fernando Wood, as Alexander Stephens, as Ulysses S. Grant, as Edwin Stanton, as Wells A. Hutchins, as Richard Schell, as Alexander Coffroth, as Samuel Beckwith, as Robert Latham, as John Hay, Peter McRobbie as George Pendleton, as Tad Lincoln, as Elizabeth Keckley, as John Nicolay, as George Yeaman, as James Ashley, as Asa Vintner Litton, as Clay Hawkins, as William Hutton, as Private Harold Green, as First White Soldier, as Second White Soldier, as Mr.Jolly, as Mrs. Jolly, as Elizabeth Blair Lee, Byron Jennings as Montgomery Blair, Richard Topol as James Speed, Walter Smith as William Fessenden, as John Usher, as Senator Bluff Wade, as Schuyler Colfax, Drew Sease as David Homer Bates, John Hutton as Senator Charles Sumner, Chase Edmunds as Willie Lincoln, as Judge John A. Campbell, John Lescault as Gustavus Fox, Mike Shiflett as Senator R.M.T. Hunter, Gannon McHale as Aaron Haddam, Ken Lambert as August Benjamin, Thomas K. Belgrey as Arthur Bentleigh, Mary Dunleavy as Marguerite, Armistead Wellford as Nehemiah Cleary, Ted Johnson as John Ellis, Don Henderson Baker as Walter Appleton, Raynor Scheine as Josiah S. 'Beanpole' Burton, Todd Fletcher as Walter H. Washburn, Charles Kinney as Myer Strauss, Joseph Carlson as Joseph Marstern, as Chilton A. Elliot, Edward McDonald as Daniel G. Stuart, Jim Batchelder as Howard Guillefoyle, Gregory Hosaflook as John F. McKenzie, Joe Kerkes as Andrew E. Finck, William Kaffenberger as John A. Casson, Larry Van Hoose as Avon Hanready, C. Brandon Marshall as Rufus Warren, Christopher Boyer as General Robert E. Lee, S. Epatha Merkerson as Lydia Smith, Robert Shepherd as Dr. Joseph K. Barnes, Grainger Hines as Gideon Welles, Skye Dennis as Union Soldier

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

Advertisement
The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.