- Director:Steven Spielberg
- Cast:Daniel Day-Lewis
- Release Date:February 07, 2013
- Distributor:20th Century Fox
- Running time:150 minutes
- Film Worth:$15.00
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It’s admirably more lively, irreverent and entertaining than one may have anticipated, but it’s also a frustratingly uneven piece of work.
With Steven Spielberg in the director’s chair, Daniel Day-Lewis in the leading role, and the subject being one of America’s most beloved and revered presidents, you could easily peg Lincoln as the big, dull kind of cinema that wins lots of awards but not many hearts. And while this historical drama will certainly factor heavily on Oscar night (Day-Lewis scored a deserved nod for his intelligent, lively, deeply human, and gleefully-free-of-reverence performance as President Abraham Lincoln), Lincoln is a far more reckless, entertaining, unusual, but ultimately horribly uneven film than its pedigree may suggest.
For every high note, there’s a discordant, bass-heavy low one. Day-Lewis’ brilliance is met by some (Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, Jared Harris and Jackie Earle Haley stand out in a huge and extremely colourful supporting cast), and undercut by others (Sally Field is sadly miscast and often painfully histrionic as Lincoln’s wife, with the age difference between her and Day-Lewis not bridged by his admittedly excellent makeup). The incredibly wordy script by acclaimed playwright, Tony Kushner (Angels In America), veers from inspired wit to verbose, theatrical absurdity, as does Spielberg’s grandiose but slyly cheeky direction. Meanwhile, some plot strands (principally Lincoln’s family woes) are compelling but ultimately extraneous.
The central plot – Lincoln’s against-the-odds efforts to ring in The 13th Amendment to The Constitution, abolishing slavery – is also a big part of the problem. Though a huge moment in American history, it’s also decidedly non-cinematic in nature, taking place in parliament, and with Lincoln himself not involved with the actual vote. Suddenly sidelined, Honest Abe feels like a supporting player in the final act of his own film. Still, Lincoln is a film drunk on the aromatic richness of American history, and that’s pretty exciting in itself.