- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Genre: Biopic
- Cert: 12A
- Details: US/ 151 mins
Instead of giving a full biopic of one of America's most famous leaders, Lincoln is set in the three months following his re-election as President. This small time-frame gives a sense of immediacy to Honest Abe's (Day Lewis) attempts to end the civil war and abolish slavery. Whilst dealing with the uprising of the southern states who want to split the country in two, he's also fighting with fellow politicians within his house of Congress, specifically those who find it impossible to believe that black people are their equals. This is 1865, an almost alternate universe where Democrats and Republicans hold the opposite positions to their modern counterparts, the idea of women being able to vote is laughable, and stove pipe hats are high fashion.
There is no hyperbole to be found when it comes to describing just how great Daniel Day Lewis is in this movie. He so completely becomes Lincoln - the gait, the mannerisms, the accent - that it is and always will be impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. Day Lewis deserves every award that he has coming to him. Right alongside him are some fantastic actors - Tim Blake Nelson, Jared Harris, Lee Pace, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Joseph Cross, David Straithairn - all of whom leave an impression despite their limited screen time, with particular mention going to Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens. He is utterly brilliant and serves as the movie's comic relief and racial equality's staunchest flag waver. Unfortunately, not everyone is up to this standard; Sally Field as Lincoln's wife and Joseph Gordon Levitt as his son both fail to be anything but irritating, and every time the movie focuses on his family instead of the politics, interest begins to wane.
But this happens very rarely, thanks to a fantastic script by Tony Kushner, who writes dialogue like an olde time Aaron Sorkin, and Spielberg who presents it like a 19th Century version of The West Wing. Yes, this is mostly old bearded men discussing politics in stuffy rooms, but it's also intelligent, immaculately presented and profoundly current in its storytelling. This is not a movie to watch passively, as it demands your complete attention, and will reward you with an incredibly smart, entertaining movie that never once feels like a history lesson.
Review by Rory Cashin | 09:29 | Friday 25th January 2013 | Movie Review
I love film and really like Daniel Day-Lewis (and Spielberg) but these types of movies bore me to death. I'll still go and see it for the acting.Posted 18:07 | Mon 21st Jan 2013
I think Daniel Day-Lewis will almost certainly complete that Oscar hat-trick. It's a commanding performance in a worthy film that treats Lincoln with all the reverence you would expect.Posted 14:50 | Sat 26th Jan 2013
Really looking forward to seeing this during the week, so few films by mainstream directors are aimed at intelligent adults anymore, I love the slow moving, dialogue heavy, character studies that this film also appears to be.Posted 19:41 | Sun 27th Jan 2013
Okay I seen it - wish I hadn't. Bring your sleeping bags to the cinema. Absolute bore-fest. This is Daniel Day-Lewis' worst performance in my opinion (although his worst performance is some of Hollywoods best). Far too many speeches and drawn out dialogue. American history is, by nature, boring, and this movie does nothing to save it. I think it only got so much Oscar attention because the power of the players involved. Its a good piece of film-making but serves no entertainment purposes (for me anyway!).Posted 20:58 | Tue 29th Jan 2013
This is not one of the best films of the year. It is one of the worse. That is a terrible thing to say I know. The acting, direction, production and all the other bits and pieces are first class, and the sum of these parts come together to make a interesting historical story, similar to something that you would see on the discovery channel, but lacking in that gripping feeling that you look for when you go to the cinema. I became quiet bored as the film progressed and waited for the end, which came at half ten. Steven Spielberg has made some great films, but for this I have to say the emperor has no clothes.Posted 00:24 | Mon 28th Jan 2013
Daniel Day Lewis has an astounding ability to breadth life into a character. He can take a script and make it his own. Every nuance of his performance in this movie is near flawless. Tommy Lee Jones is great. The comic relief offered John Hawkes, Tim Blake Nelson but especially James Spader is all too brief in the film. The acting is superb, the movie looks spectacular but it left me cold. Normally at the end of a movie there is some energy in the crowd to indicate how much they enjoyed watching it. An entire cinema walked out at the finish without a word. Stone silence. It is exhausting to watch but not as rewarding as I'd hopedPosted 16:31 | Sun 27th Jan 2013
This was literally the first film since George Clooneys batman that i was gonna walk out of... my god it was so boring and painful.. which was a suprise as Daniel Day lewis is amazing and all the actors are fantastic but its so dialogue heavy.. everytime someone asks a question the music comes on and a never ending speech commences.. so painful and disappointing as it could have been amazing.. acting sets and costumes were great.. but snore!!! (as concurred by the man in the cinema i was in snoring 15 mins in!!!)Posted 10:24 | Wed 6th Feb 2013
"He so completely becomes Lincoln - the gait, the mannerisms, the accent - that it is and always will be impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. " It's impossible to know if Daniel Day Lewis "completely becomes" Lincoln. He might be amazing in the role, but the mannerisms, accent etc... can only be guessed by what's written about him.Posted 11:58 | Wed 30th Jan 2013
I thought this was a quite, profound masterpiece. I love the dignity Day-Lewis brings to the role, his story telling was a unique way of communicating his point. I don't agree with the main review saying the domestic scenes are a distraction. In real life Lincoln's wife was unhinged after the death of her son. After Lincoln died the eldest son had her committed to an asylum. But other viewers do need to be informed some of the wheeling and dealing, the coaxing to get the Thirteenth Amendment passed may prove uninteresting.Posted 19:04 | Wed 30th Jan 2013
Very drawn out and boring. Many other aspects of Lincoln's life should have been included. I got excited when a battle scene was featured briefly, then no, someone decided that would have been interesting and had another 2 hours of mostly uninteresting dialogue. The scene of politicians saying "yay" or "nay" seemed to go on and on, especially when viewers knew the outcome of the vote. I was expecting his assassination to be a big part of the film. Felt like almost 3 hours wasted.Posted 02:21 | Wed 10th Apr 2013
Very drawn out and boring. Many other aspects of Lincoln's life should have been included. I got excited when a battle scene was featured briefly, then no, someone decided that would have been interesting and had another 2 hours of mostly uninteresting dialogue. The scene of politicians saying "yay" or "nay" seemed to go on and on, especially when viewers knew the outcome of the vote. I was expecting his assassination to be a big part of the film. Felt like almost 3 hours wasted.Posted 02:22 | Wed 10th Apr 2013
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