l i n c o l n
25th January 2013
Daniel Day Lewis
Daniel Day Lewis strides out on to the political battlefield to buy enough votes to force through the 13th Amendment in Spielberg's beautiful, grubby, powerful and subtle Oscar grab epic.
Just to clear this up from the start, broken shark is going to ignore any historical inconsistency, picking sides or other biopic-related controversy. We watched this film with little to no knowledge of the man Lincoln and we’re pretty happy to review the film in that light. He was around a long while ago, wore some awesome hats and pushed through the anti-slavery amendment for the Republican Party. Yes, the last bit surprised us. Only having known the typical modern day European view of American politics (that is, Blue = the Good Guys, Red = the Bad Guys), it’s intriguing to see the Right of America driving forward with positive radical agenda.
But enough of the politics, what of the movie? We very much enjoyed the movie. At the time of writing, Lincoln is lined up for a clean sweep at the Oscars (according to Betfair anyway) and it’s very easy to see why. Daniel Day Lewis is borderline scary in the accuracy of his portrayal as Lincoln (bearing in mind that we are not Lincoln experts), his voice, mannerisms, walk, beard and hat are all the very picture of Lincoln. It is possible that this may be his finest moment. And he’s had some pretty fine moments to date. This is no grandstanding performance by any stretch, in fact it feels deliberately reigned in to portray Lincoln as the calm persistent force, manipulating and coercing his team and the opposition with skill and cunning.
Tommy Lee Jones also manages a more subtle performance than we’re used to from him and it’s all the more impressive for it. Chances of a supporting Oscar win must be high for him as the belligerent abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens – probably one of the few characters who is acting on a predominantly personal level to force the amendment through. It’s a fantastic performance and his final scene in bed sums up his motivations brilliantly.
Spielberg has crafted a wonderful, intelligent film that coasts through it’s 150 minute run-time without ever seeming too long and with next to no action whatsoever. Janus Kaminski manages to achieve a beautiful look for the film without glossing over the grubbier aspects of the time.
Criticisms can be found however. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets next to nothing to do in the role as Lincoln’s son and the ending seems rushed and unnecessary. Did the film need to continue to Lincoln's death (apologies for the spoiler)? Spielberg surely missed a trick by not ending the film on the wonderful shot of Lincoln walking out of his house to meet up with Mrs. Lincoln. Why tack on the obvious?
But that’s really clutching at straws in a superb movie. broken shark would put money on this nailing at least three Oscars, if not more and it probably deserves them. But we’ll likely change our mind on that a few more times before the ceremony.