Lincoln, as directed by Steven Spielberg and as acted by Daniel Day Lewis, is a gorgeous and insightful look into the political saavy and tender nuance of The Great Emancipator. It is sweeping in its grandeur and the jungles of its narrative depth are lush.
That being said, it bored me pretty much to death.
I can’t fault Spielberg for making this biopic two and a half hours long. I mean if you’re going to spend all that money on crazy facial hair wigs why not show them off? But the story of how the 13th Amendment passed is not nearly as harrowing as he thinks it is, I suspect. Often while watching the political intrigues and dealings of Lincoln, the viewer is left with the feeling that a lot of this is being fluffed up for drama’s sake. I mean, I wasn’t there, and my knowledge of the history comes primarily from what I read on the $5 bill while waiting in line to buy a Slurpee, but the movie plays out like one of the lesser episodes of The West Wing. Like one where Toby is off on vacation and Rob Lowe has to deal with a false sexual harassment charge or something. My point is that Lincoln, for all its grandeur, went a little thin on believable plot points.
If you bring your kids to this movie, prepare for jail or the hospital, because any kid that can sit still while watching this beautifully shot film is either dead or dying. And if they aren’t either of those things they are going to be bouncing off the walls and you’ll be hatewhispering “Shh!” the whole time and wondering if at some point during those wild college years maybe you should have just gotten neutered.
I really hate myself right now, incidentally. The acting in this movie was soooo fantastic. Of all the Abraham Lincolns, Daniel Day Lewis is the Lincolniest. It was a stunning performance and total Oscar bait and the subtleties he worked into the performance… the small nuances of face and hand and movement… the slumped and semi-galloping gait he walked with…everything about it was amazing. Even the voice he chose for Lincoln added to its feeling of genuineness. He showed a tortured and withered President worn thin by the war that was tearing his country apart. Plus he had that super tall hat. That hat is the shit. If I put that hat on my cat, I would vote for HIM to be president in like 2 seconds.
Sally Field is in this also, playing Lincoln’s disturbed wife Mary, and although history hasn’t been particularly kind to this woman, I thought her performance was nicely tempered to show a bitter and grieving woman who still kept up appearances when necessary. Like all the acting in this movie she was first rate. Also in there was the busiest person from 3rd Rock From The Sun, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as well as Lane Pryce from Mad Men, and like a billion other old guys you’ve seen in movies like 100 times. Seriously. Every old white guy that has ever been on film was in this. I’d list them all but I get to Hal Holbrook and then I just lose interest. Hal Holbrook was totally in it.
Oh! And Tommy Lee Jones, playing a wrinkled leather bag with eyes glued on it, and BOY was that bag grouchy! This movie coulda used some Fresh Prince to liven it up, I think.
So while Lincoln may have been slow-moving and suspicious in its predicable plotting, it was fun for your eyes and had good beards and a fun amputation pile, which may not sound like a lot of fun to you, but after struggling to stay awake for two and a half hours, I’m not looking a gift foot in the mouth.
They also made a really big deal out of Lincoln liking his son Thad WAAAYY more than his son Robert, and I don’t know if that’s historically accurate, but as a parent I totally get it. Rob was all “Waaahhh! I wanna fight in the war!!” and pouty, while Tad was just sorta innocuously attention-whorish and underfoot for the whole movie. Actually both of Lincoln’s kids were kinda dicks. If they were my kids I would have threatened them with having to sit through one of those shouty House of Representative sessions. That would straighten ‘em out quick I bet.
If you’re a fan of history or great acting without much point or silly neckbeards, this is the movie for you. Also if sleeping and wasting money is your bag, Lincoln is the film for you.