Movie Review: Lincoln

It’s become my specialty: reviewing movies long after everyone else has seen them. I wonder if there’s a way to monetize this . . .

Anyway, I finally had the chance to take in one of last years critical favorites: Lincoln. Steven Spielberg. Daniel Day Lewis. Abraham Lincoln. Part of me feels like a review is superfluous. You know exactly what you’re getting before you even start the movie, don’t you?

Or do you?

The traditional take on a biopic would present the whole of Lincoln’s life. You’d see him born, grow up, become a lawyer, become a politician, become president, become (SPOILER!) assassinated.

This isn’t that movie. This movie could actually be more appropriately titled, The Thirteenth Amendment. Of course, who in their right mind would want to watch a 2.5 hour movie about that? They’d really be missing out, actually. I had no idea the passage of that amendment was difficult at all. (Yes, this proves what an idiot I am when it comes to history, I suppose. But come on–no Southern states were there for the debate. So you had a bunch of Northern politicians debating whether or not the US should allow slavery. Preaching to the choir, right? Wrong, apparently. Very wrong.)

Even more laudable, the history presented in the film is good enough that not all historians criticized it. Some actually even praised it. So you’re not just getting the Hollywood-ized version of history. You’re getting some of what actually happened. (More or less.)

The acting is, of course, superb. I wouldn’t be surprised it I heard that Daniel Day Lewis had eschewed running water, deodorant, and air conditioning throughout the course of filming, just so he could remain in character. The man really is an incredible actor. There’s a reason he’s won Best Actor three times now. Tommy Lee Jones also does a remarkable job as Thaddeus Stevens. The directing is spot on (of course), and the pacing is as good as a film of this sort can hope to have. (I mean, it’s an historical film. Don’t expect tons of explosions and pyrotechnics. Although it still had some pacing issues, even for a film of this nature. I found the beginning and denouement to be on the clunky side.)

So if you haven’t seen the movie yet because you don’t want the old Lincoln biopic, then rest assured this is much much more than that. 3.5 stars. Highly recommended.

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