Saturday, November 17, 2012


Plot: Lincoln starts during 1865 near the end of the war. Lincoln (Daniel Day Lewis)  has just been reelected, and the lame duck congress is in session. Lincoln is contemplating the end of the war, and wants to push for the 13th amendment, which ends slavery. The main story is the legislative wrangling that ensues in the deadlocked House of Representatives -- it is simultaneously just-like-today and so much worse. The side plots illustrate Lincoln has husband, father, and commander-in-chief. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Daniel Day Lewis inhabits Abraham Lincoln bringing him to life in the midst of the Civil War. The war & slavery put emotional energy into speeches and arguments. This Lincoln seems to be true to his historical self -- although I have no way of testing that. 

The supporting cast was up to the task, especially David Strathaim as Secretary of State Steward, and Tommy Lee Jones as Rep. Stevens. 

Most of the visuals are historical scenes, where I was always thinking how small all the furniture was and how uncomfortable life was compared to today. There is a hospital visit scene that is memorable for its gross-out effect, and a battlefield scene that had massive carnage.

Lincoln tells a story about the past, but at the same time it is about people and failings today. It is about deadlock in Washington in 1865 and in 2012. It is about racial divides  both then and now. It is about gender inequality between Mary/Molly Lincoln (Sally Field,) Rep. Steven's housekeeper, and during the debate in the House. It is also about war and peace.

Even though, it is only moderately fun-to-watch, I liked it because of its thoughtfulness and heft.

Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Hal Holbrook. Tommy Lee Jones

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Rating: 4.0 stars: The superb acting coupled with a substantive topic make this a top film. 

More: This film is all about the end of slavery, but one speech foreshadows the suffragette movement that begins right after the Civil War. 

Even more: Another boring, emotionless soundtrack from the over-the-hill composer John Williams. He needs to retire.