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

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