As the American Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancip... Read allAs the American Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.As the American Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.
Although the film does rather fall into these traps occasionally, it is by no means seriously flawed since the majority of the film is patience and very well delivered. We focus on the final few years of Lincoln's life, specifically the period towards the end of the war where slavery was abolished by Constitutional amendment. As such the film is about political wrangling and the determination to stay the course with the goal even though it would be difficult and smart politics suggested to not risk the bigger prize (peace) at the expense of an aspiration. The film shows this very well and it manages to be patient without being slow – which is quite the achievement considering that the film is essentially men in rooms talking. The politicking was well delivered so that it wasn't dull but wasn't falsely sped up. The sentimentality is kept to a surprisingly low. It is still there of course and the camera frequently looks for a heroic frame and the music often reminds us the grandeur of what we are seeing, but it doesn't overdo it too much and certainly nowhere near the levels I feared.
Day Lewis is perhaps a given for the Oscar. His Lincoln is certainly a spot on creation – he comes over as heroic and steadfast without being mythicalised by his own performance. He really gives an impression of the man's spirit throughout the film. The supporting cast is so deep in names and faces that it is hard to know where to start; being honest, at times I did find it a little distracting as a parade came across the screen – seemingly all from TV shows I watch or films I had seen, I suspect I could be quite far down the cast list before I found someone I couldn't place. Aside from this distracting a little, it does mean the cast is deep in talent and everyone does well. Tommy Lee Jones in particular adds passion and color to all his scenes and the film benefits from his performance. Field is perhaps not as good – although in fairness I didn't think the personal side to the story worked as well as the rest – and since this is her parts, maybe that is why I didn't like her performance as much. Spielberg's direction is very well paced; shots are very well picked and the camera is very patient in its movement.
Lincoln didn't blow me away but it did quietly impress me. Part of the reason for this is that the film doesn't go all out for emotion or history or sentimentality, it simply lets it happen in the main and manages to keep these traps to a comparative minimum that really helps the film. It is long but never boring, respectful but never overly so.
- bob the moo
- Feb 23, 2013