Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review: Lincoln

There's no doubt in my mind that the best actor of this generation (and quite possibly the greatest actor EVER) is Mr. Daniel Day-Lewis, a consumate professional who puts his heart and soul into every single performance he gives.  In his long awaited follow-up to There Will Be Blood, Day-Lewis shines yet again in an amazing portrayal of one of the most loved presidents in American history.  In a first-time dream collaboration of Day-Lewis and Steven Spielberg, Lincoln tells the detailed story of Abraham Lincoln's political struggle to pass the 13th Amendment through the House of Representatives, effectively ending slavery and sparking an end to the Civil War.

Instead of focusing on the entire life span of the 16th president, Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner cover a few months of Lincoln's presidency which highlights the lobbying of wavering Democrats in an attempt to secure the two-thirds majority needed to pass the Amendment.  Spielberg and producer Kathleen Kennedy have put together an amazing supporting cast that compliments Day-Lewis.  Tommy Lee Jones (in one of his best performances in years as Thaddeus Stevens),  Sally Field, David Straitharn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the hardest working man in showbiz this year), John Hawkes, James Spader and Hal Holbrook all add to the believability of the drama set in 1865.  Spielberg does a fantastic job making every detail seem authentic to the era depicted.

The obvious star of this movie is Day-Lewis.  He completely embodies Lincoln from his folksy and spirited voice to the tall brooding way in which he carries himself beneath his trademark top hat.  Thanks to an amazing job by the film's makeup artists, it only take a few scenes to forget that Day-Lewis is playing a character.  He is simply unbelievably believable as Abraham Lincoln.

This film has without a doubt the smallest amount of visual effects for a Spielberg-helmed movie.  Spielberg instead uses a lot of long takes to showcase the amazing acting talent that has been assembled.  The visual effects in this film are the actors themselves who deliver sharp lines of dialogue in a meaningful and precise manner.  Spielberg is able to make politics seem actually exciting at times.

Lincoln is an important film that should be seen by everybody especially on the heels of the spirited political election this country has just been through.  I can't rate this movie higher than 4 out of 5 JRs however due to the extreme amount of political content that's served up here.  Someone who can't get enough of the political world (*cough*  Burt Hall *cough*) will be in heaven sitting through this film.  Personally I found all the vote-lobbying rather overwhelming after a while.  All of the insight into 19th century politics could not overshadow Day-Lewis, who dominates the screen every time he's featured and should be a shoe-in for yet another Best Acting Oscar award.  His Lincoln comes across as a very likable president who helped the Republican party get off to a monumental beginning.

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