Lincoln Review: A movie that earns your respect but not your affection
Lincoln is most definitely one of the best films of the year. Every actor gives a great performance, the directing is strong, the story is engaging and interesting, and it is near flawless. But is it possible to love this film?
Steven Spielberg knows how to direct movies, this is clear, and he doesn’t disappoint in his latest feature but at the same time you never have that love for what you are watching like in other Spielberg films and it almost seems like Spielberg is stretching his academic muscle throughout the film.
Don’t get me wrong I didn’t not like the film. I thought it was great, easily in my top three of the year so far, but I didn’t exit the theater just head over heels in love with it like I was with some of my other top films. It definitely would not make my top five most entertaining films of the year for sure. That’s not to take away from the achievement that Spielberg put out but to let people going in know that this isn’t a typical Spielberg piece of work.
The film takes place a few months before the Civil War is ended and covers what Lincoln is dealing with inside of his cabinet and with the people of America on whether or not to emancipate the slaves first or to end the war. Daniel Day-Lewis takes on the role of President Lincoln and gives a spectacular performance as our 16th President.
Easily the highlight of the film is the performance that Day-Lewis gives is one of the best, if not the best, I’ve seen this year so far. He captures the emotions of Lincoln very well and for someone who has not been seen very much in movies or television, I believe that he has given the performance that will be the staple to look at from now on whenever someone plays Lincoln. Whenever he is on the screen, you are sucked in, wondering what he will say next or more importantly how he will handle what has been put before him. His range is incredible and he most certainly deserves a nomination and maybe a win for the performance.
Outside of Day-Lewis the cast is exceptional, just not at his level. I would have to rank Tommy Lee Jones second in best performances as his character, Thaddeus Stevens, was the second most interesting character after Lincoln. He carried the scenes that took place within the House of Representatives and made them livelier and also had great chemistry with Lincoln, especially in a scene at one of Lincoln’s parties. After Jones, I would say James Spador as W.N. Bilbo would be my third favorite. He added some nice comic relief and was entertaining whenever he was on the screen. Sally Field did a nice job as Mary Todd Lincoln but she just was not nearly as likeable as other characters and David Strathairn was good as William Steward but was very underused.
As I said before, Spielberg knocked it out of the park again when it comes to directing as it was a flawlessly made film. I want to especially point at the lighting that carried a lot of emotion in key scenes as well as the background weather that seemed to parallel with the emotions being exerted on the screen. These subtle additions made the scenes even more powerful and really highlighted the performances.
Lincoln is very much one of the best films of the year but isn’t one of my favorites. While nothing was ever done poorly, it lost my attention at some points when Day-Lewis was not on screen and never really engaged me as well as Argo or even Skyfall. It is a triumphant effort by Spielberg, a Oscar worthy performance by Day-Lewis, and one of the most well-crafted films of the year but not one I would say that I loved.
What do you think? Leave a comment.