Lincoln Review by Marcelina

Lincoln is Steven Speilberg’s long-awaited biopic of our 16th president — and it lives up to the hype. It is not a biography, really, because that would imply an in depth account of the entirety of Lincoln’s life. Rather, this movie focuses on the last four months of Lincoln’s life and the passage of the 13th amendment to abolish slavery.
Many accounts of Lincoln’s life focus either on the personal, like his supposedly tumultuous relationship with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln (played in this film by the wonderful Sally Field), in the face of many personal tragedies; others still focus on his prairie lawyer roots. This movie is an honest and truthful account of Lincoln the politician – perhaps one of the lesser celebrated aspects of his character. But in exposing his political nature, Lincoln also shows a strong, decisive leader who pulled no punches. Daniel Day Lewis is brilliant and restrained in his portrayal of Lincoln – he is not a caricature, nor, on the other end of the spectrum, the docile, almost pitiful version any other actor might have played (although his prairie roots certainly come across in his reedy drawl – a voice that Daniel Day Lewis supposedly spent a year honing). Tommy Lee Jones also shines as Pennsylvania congressman Thaddeus Stevens, the ardent abolitionist who played an integral role in passing the 13th amendment. Some of the best lines in the movie are uttered by Jones, and while the subject matter is grim, he gives the audience several laughs with his cutting oratory on the House floor. In fact, Lincoln shines in the moments of humor, many of which are brought about by the President’s proclivity for telling strange and funny anecdotes, usually in the most tense moments. Again, this is Lewis’ forte – bringing Lincoln’s humanity to the forefront.
As mentioned before, this movie is very sharply focused on one small window of time – the four months that Lincoln spent pushing the 13th amendment through the House. In zeroing in on such a small time frame, we get a very real sense of the urgency Lincoln felt in balancing two extremes: ending the Civil War through a peaceful reconciliation with the South, and on the other side, ending slavery. His Secretary of State, William Seward, advises one or the other, insisting that Lincoln cannot have it both ways. Lincoln has a plan in motion, though, and he weaves between the two options with a political dexterity that has yet to be matched by another President. Lincoln bullies, cajoles, and bribes his amendment through and ends the war — ultimately proving that the ends justified the means.
While the political storyline rages on, we also get glimpses into Lincoln’s family life. The President and his wife mourn the loss of their son William to typhus and struggle over letting their eldest son Robert’s (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) desire to join the Union army. The complexity of their relationship could comprise another movie in itself, but here it serves to show the man behind the strong facade of the Presidency – one struggling with personal tragedies as well as public ones.
This is a movie that, in my opinion, everyone should see. It is about the best of character coming through during one of the darkest hours in our nation’s history. Lincoln is what great movies are all about – enthralling acting, superb writing, and a story that makes the audience believe in something – but in this case, that story just happens to be real.
I think it’s quite obvious that I give this movie an A. (And in my humble opinion, the Oscar for Best Actor is Daniel Day-Lewis’ to lose).

Marcelina Powers

2 Responses to “Lincoln Review by Marcelina”

  1. Julie Mallet says:

    This Review makes me more and more interested in seeing the movie!

  2. Shelley Miana says:

    What an amazing review! If one is not left wanting to see this movie after reading this review, they must not be a lover of a good story or of movies in general. I for one plan to attend on opening weekend with much anticipation. 🙂

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