Movie Review: Lincoln (2012)
Steven Spielberg’s latest offering is a 2 and a half hour journey through the beautifully acted yet cumbersome tale of President Abraham Lincoln’s struggle to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. I’m not really sure how to synopsise historical events in a meaningful way as most people already know what happened, so I’ll say that Lincoln focuses on the 16th President’s last few months near the end of the civil war as he attempts to reconstruct a broken nation.
Lincoln is a good movie but where it fails, from my point of view, is that it’s so very dense. There is almost no action in Lincoln, save the opening scenes and from then the movie fluctuates between political arguments, lengthy speeches, family upsets and back to lengthy speeches. Similarly, as a reserved Englishman it’s hard to get overly excited by the American back-patting on display here. Upon watching a second time, however, I realised that this movie requires a certain mood to enjoy, as with many movies. Given the right mood, this movie is downright enthralling.
Across the board, the acting in Lincoln is superb. Daniel Day-Lewis is fully worthy of his Oscar Nomination, if not the win. As we’ve come to expect from him he throws himself into the role of Lincoln with such immersion and accuracy, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the part. In fact after the movie I was reading up about Lincoln himself for this review and found myself reading excerpts of speeches in the manner Day-Lewis performed them. Sally Field plays Mary Todd Lincoln in a very believable manner; she’s powerful, formidable and fragile all at the same time, if a little grating on occasion. Two of the standout performances for me were those of John Hawkes and Michael Stuhlbarg as Robert Latham and George Yeaman respectively. Both actors are relative unknowns but big favourites of mine for their diverse wealth of talent, be it on television or the silver screen.
Whilst Lincoln can be slow, it can offer a mesmerising and uniquely engaging experience once you allow yourself to be drawn in. If for no other reason than seeing how Daniel Day-Lewis is able to transform himself yet again, you should see this film to witness one of the greatest actors in history playing one of the greatest men in history.
What did you think of Lincoln? Will it take Best Picture at the Oscars? Or is it simply another piece of American self-loving to take over this awards season? Let me know in the comment section below.