Review: Lincoln


Whenever watching a Spielberg movie there’s always a waiting feeling for something dramatic and exhilarating.

In Lincoln that sentiment lingers long in telling the story of what is principally only a portion of Abe’s presidential time; spectacle gives way to dwelling and contemplation.

Addressing Lincoln’s fight to pass the thirteenth amendment, hastiness would appear to be a luxury ill afforded as the long civil war still rages on. The borrowed time and freedom given to America’s wartime slaves by Abe’s famous proclamation, with ceasefire imminent, primes all of congress to debate liberty for all and forever.

It’s the central historic significance at the heart of Spielberg’s near epic telling that restrains itself from flair and dramatization and perhaps for the better, a deviation for the master director appearing to enter a new phase of leisurely storytelling.

He is steadfast in his remit though, integrity being the key objective in telling the story of one of America’s greatest statesman, just like Daniel Day Lewis’ principal in yet another consuming lead.

His methods are now legendary and in playing Abe, Lewis is handed more to chew than ever, delivering Tony Kushner’s screenplay with much musing and lamentation in his most historically weighty role.

Stretched beneath a facia of composure, it’s an undemonstrative portrayal, demands of authority and respect are few, his popularity as a man of the people so earned it, Lincoln’s best and warmest scenes are saved in counsel with the everyman.

Supported by a superb cast, performances all around the antagonistic congress are of the highest quality, chiefly Tommy Lee Jones, verbally thrashing the prejudice opposition and  worthy of award nomination as the unsung life campaigning hero for emancipation.

Wifely Sally Field brings home the trauma of war felt by all, damaged by the loss of her own son and others countless, bringing seldom seen anguish for hubby Abraham and a glimpse of the inner turmoil of a leader gambling on liberation for all while hundreds die daily in his patience.

Lincoln is methodical, evenly paced and almost laborious. The close quarters focus on The White House’s grey innards and political manoeuvring of a divided congress provides little opportunity for flamboyance or melodrama; The respectful restraint of a filmmaker indicating the significance of matters unfolding if any reminder were needed.

Spielberg lets history and supreme acting tell its own story, resisting his natural ostentatious tendencies, but any gain by his economy is squandered by an over-long runtime and a plethora of procrastinating chat.

Not quite epic either, the grandeur is parked with the intimate focus on matters of the house limiting the scope of the drama of the battlefield, bookending political intricacies with an opening clash before and a decimated prairie revisited later; Intentional perhaps then, once more testament to the diligence to choose to tell the most important part of America’s most significant story.

Cinema (Cineworld)

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24 responses to “Review: Lincoln

  1. This movie was more interesting that enjoyable for me,I thought Steven could have done a better job,the ending was a real anti climax,saying that I doubt anyone will portray Lincoln better than DDL

    • the subject matter was indeed interesting and it was as much a history lesson than anything else. I think everyone should watch it for it significance. Thanks for the visit!

  2. Good review. Daniel Day, and the rest of the cast is just amazing, but the one who I was most taken-away from was Spielberg, who plays everything safe, intimate, and very subtle. Something I haven’t seen from the guy in awhile.

  3. Hm. I didnt think it was the best picture of the year (but dont be surprised if it wins the Oscar, LOL) but I certainly never found it “laborious”. For me the main story was what you said when you said “Spielberg lets history and supreme acting tell its own story, resisting his natural ostentatious tendencies” Thats spot on. DDL, Field and Tommy Lee Jones were all awesome. I expect some gold at the Academy Awards for some of them at least

    • best picture certainly not ,but it’s American historical significance cannot be ignored by awards or audiences.I too think my line summed it up (proud of that one lol) I think DDL and Jones are well worthy, Jones probably more so for me, perhaps because of the lack of surprise in DDL being awesome as always. I think it will clean up due to its subject. Thanks for the visit once more!

  4. I think you hit the nail right on the head with this one. Very nice, well written review. I thought that there was almost an overabundance of big names in this film. The movie was already long already. They really would have had to make it even longer to really develop all of the characters. Besides DDL, Tommy Lee Jones was basically the only one given enough time to really show his worth. All the big names hopped aboard this one, but I think spielberg did not want any of their acting skills to take away from Lincoln himself. It was a good move, but I think it takes away from any supporting actor oscar chances. The academy might just give them all of the awards anyway. But that is something else entirely. Another great read!

    • Thanks for the praise as much as I love ddl he was given far too much time to muse and tell stories. Great film no doubt but my review summed up my feelings well on the things I disliked, it will do well at the awards just because its so significant in Americas history

  5. —A 12th? –13th? Hollywood ‘Lincoln’?
    ——that brings NOTHING NEW to the table?
    —-AGAIN with Sally Field?
    ——–that, in 2013, features a foreigner in the lead?
    —–and makes NO reference, or even mention,
    of Lincoln’s quite possibly —–FATAL—— diss
    of teh Global USURY monopoly over finance of the war?

    NO THANKS!

  6. Nice review mate! It can get very heavy in parts and I thought some knowledge of the US judicial system and the history itself may have provided a little more context to some of the stuff they were saying. Nevertheless, I thought it was excellent, DDL deserves all the praise he’s getting, and TLJ is brilliant. I thought Sally Fields overacted many of her scenes, although a lot of people lover her performance.

    • TBH Field gets on my wick a bit, don’t know why, because she is a good actress. She filled the role well of the damaged wife and mother, but always something annoying bout her – sorry this seems harsh. Thanks for the visit, glad you liked the review and the film!

  7. Every movie I see is just way too long, right now. There seems to be a trend to the two and a half hour mark and I don’t think the length improves Lincoln or Flight. DDL is, as always impressive and the battle scenes are amazing – but there is way too much incorrect history (I tutted a few times) and draggy shouting stuff for me. I enjoyed your review and thanks for the “like” on mine!

    • you’re welcome, i have no issue with long films, if it is necessary. In flight it felt appropriate but Lincoln was far too long, often feeling that a preplanned attempt at Oscar glory. I love DDL but he has been better and much of the set up felt like chances to give him too much of the floor to lament – far too chatty. Sadly, i dont know my history and I should some artistic licence has been applied. Thanks for the visit, nice to have you on board!

  8. I’m really very surprised by all the comments on here. I think Lincoln IS a film to get passionate about. It’s so rare that the *words* (i.e. the screenwriter) gets such recognition and respect — from Spielberg (you’re absolutely right — he’s showing major, welcome restraint), critics and actors alike. The language is so beautifully precise, so elegant and intelligent… it’s sad to hear that audiences find such a smart film “boring.” This is like a throwback to the days when playwrights were often screenwriters/adaptors of their own works: A Streetcar Named Desire, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, etc. I hope this sparks a much-needed change in Hollywood filmmaking. I, for one, would love Lincoln to take home Best Picture.

    • Hi Julie, I very much admired Lincoln and as I pointed out ,Spielberg very much let the screenplay speak for itself. That was brave and respectful from such a flamboyant film-maker, but he has always been a great story teller too. It’s a very strong nomination also for it’s significance. My only gripe, while still enjoying it was it got weighed down in parts, but certainly not boring.Thanks for your great comment and visit.

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