Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook and Tommy Lee Jones
b! Says: **
Lincoln is a history lecture we'd bunk
With a director like Steven Spielberg and a leading man like Daniel Day-Lewis, expectations were sky-high from 'Lincoln', but we found ourselves disappointed by this uneven film, despite some stellar performances.
The movie chronicles the last four months of Abraham Lincoln's (Day-Lewis) life. The Civil War rages on and Lincoln is desperately trying to get the 13th amendment passed that will abolish slavery. Standing in his way is opposition from the Democrats, conservative factions of his own Republican party and peace treaties from the South that could derail the resolution. On the personal front, he's having a hard time with his wife (Sally Field), who continues to mourn their dead son and his oldest Bob (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is desperate to sign up for the army.
For this reviewer, there were only two real moments of liveliness - the first comes right at the start, where the bloody Civil War battle scenes remind you of an old Spielberg classic (Saving Private Ryan), and the other is when the 13th amendment is put to vote in the House. The rest is a meandering tale, hard to follow because of the thick Yank and Southern accents and long lines that are spoken without so much as a breathing pause between sentences.
Nevertheless, Daniel Day-Lewis delivers the goods. He's as believable as the genial giant who's forever ready with an anecdote, as he is as the president at war with the South, his family and his own conscience. Tommy Lee Jones plays the angry old man yet again but lands the film's best line ('The greatest measure of the 19th century was passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America'). Big names in the supporting cast are a disappointment. It's hard to feel real sympathy for Field as the First Lady, Gordon-Levitt as Lincoln's oldest son is forgettable but special mention must go to the lobbyist trio of James Spader, Tim Nelson and John Hawkes, who lighten the proceedings.
'Lincoln' might just be able to get by at the Indian theatres by riding the Oscar wave, but this is a history lecture we'd rather have bunked.