Movie Review: Lincoln stands tall

November 19th, 2012 at 1:07 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews, Uncategorized

Click HERE to watch the trailer.

Director Steven Spielberg brings us Lincoln.  This is not a complete biopic, rather a look in depth at a short few months of Lincoln’s life and his efforts to secure the passage of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The screenplay is written by Tony Kushner, based on the book “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

It begins not long after Gettysburg when already the famed address has taken on historic significance.  Lincoln (Daniel Day Lewis) is visiting campsites and talking with soldiers and average Americans about emancipation for slaves.  His back is against the wall with the Emancipation Proclamation set to expire at the end of the war. And the end of the war could be soon. Lincoln and some others realize that if the 13th amendment is not passed prior to the end of the war it could be mayhem for freed slaves being reclaimed by their owners.

Meanwhile the First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field)  has her own feelings on the amendment and the war.  She is certainly outspoken with her husband behind closed doors and to her credit, she does not shy away from confrontation with Congressmen and Senators.

Lincoln continues a giant political chess game trying to get votes the best ways, and in many cases the only ways, he thinks he can.  Lincoln — the man — is tortured by the loss of one of his sons and the potential loss of another should he join the war cause, and of course by his youngest son –still at home and questioning his father on the value of life while looking at photos of child slaves and their purchase prices.

The thought that many did not understand that a human being is a human being is a human being weighed heavily in this portrayal of Lincoln.  Of course, we all know how the story ends, but it is this detailed glimpse at how we got there that is amazing.

Daniel Day Lewis is known for his immersion into characters and this characterization of Abraham Lincoln is no different.  Lewis manages to become Lincoln, and in many ways even reflect the stature of historic significance that history has given him while also showing us the intricacies and humanity of the president.  Lewis as Lincoln may be the best acting performance of the year.

Also I cannot go without mentioning Sally Field as Mary.   History has told us that Mary had a reputation of being a little crazy and a bit of a shopaholic.  In this portrayal — so emotionally balanced, Field manages to give the audience a glimpse of the many layers of the woman from within the circumstance. She’s a woman who had lost a child and was deathly afraid of losing another, a woman whose best friend was a slave, and a woman who understood what the end of the war could mean for all of them.  This role was handled beautifully by Field.

There are many great performances in the context of the film including Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens.  But it is the movie as a whole that is the star. All of the stunning historic portraits we’ve seen in the past coming together and coming to life.  Although heavy on dialogue, it is moving and enlightening and Lincoln should stand tall at the box office.

FIVE OUT OF FIVE COOKIES

Rated PG-13 based on an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language.

 

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