Sunday, February 3, 2013

Lincoln (2012)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson

More info: IMDb

Plot: As the Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I see it again? Yes.

So I'm sittin' there watching this yesterday in a theater of about 10 and there's an elderly couple sitting in the row ahead of us. At the end of the picture I lean over and ask, "So, is this how you remember it?".  OK, I just thought about saying it.  I was really shocked by the lack of laughs there were in this picture.  Hell, there weren't even any pratfalls.  Day-Lewis was splendid and his makeup job was remarkable.  I guess we Americans have this image of Lincoln as a tall, deep-voiced, slow-moving Gregory Peck-type.  DDL's performance changed that somewhat and I really liked it.  While real-life politics disgusts me,  I enjoy it in the movies, especially when there's a historical context.

It's funny how you can be emotionally effected by something you already know the outcome.  You know the 13th amendment passes and you know Lincoln snuffs it at the theater, yet Spielberg makes a compelling movie with plenty of tension and emotional impact.  Tommy Lee Jones gets the most laughs and his character's payoff (in his final scene with his significant other) is so beautiful I was all choked up.  It's getting to me again as I talk about it.  If I have any qualms about the movie it's that it went too far.  I would have liked it more if Spielberg had stopped before Lincoln's assassination.  It didn't feel necessary to the narrative.  The entire picture was about his struggle to get the 13th amendment passed.  Maybe it was included because it represents the price he paid to see it through.  This probably has the sparsest John Williams score yet.   Well, at least I know more about the man on the penny than I did last week.

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