Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Tony Kushner
Based on: Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson, Joseph Cross, Jared Harris, Lee Pace, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Costabile, Walton Goggins, David Oyelowo, Lukas Haas, Dane DeHaan
In the middle of the US American civil war, Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) got reelected for his second term of presidency. And he uses that position to make another push to finally do away with slavery in the US for good by adding an amendment to the constitution. But he faces a lot of opposition, not only from the Democrats, but also from within his own Republican party. As the war draws closer to its end, Lincoln and his staff have to work really hard to pass the amendment in time.
Oh boy, Lincoln is one hell of a boring movie. It’s really long, and it feels even longer. The cast is generally fantastic, but the script is unfocused and Steven Spielberg is really off his game in this one.
When deadra and me left Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, she said that she was pretty sure that the five sentences Harriet Tubman had in this film would be more than she would get in Lincoln. And lo and behold, she was absolutely right. But she was even more right than I thought, since there’s basically no black person in this film at all. (As it was put on Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell: “Lincoln is the whitest movie about slavery ever.”)
But even setting the framing of this story aside, which was already expected, the script didn’t satisfy me. It was unfocused and jumped all over the place. And the stories Lincoln told all of the time… at one point there is a character who exclaims something like “NO! Not another story!” and flees the scene. I just wish I could have done the same thing. Also, why is Lincoln never allowed to survive a movie? I mean, we all know that he died, but does the film always have to end with him actually being shot. It did nothing for the story and the movie was already too long anyway.
The movie has some redeeming features. The scenes in the congress are engaging (and I think that congress used to be much more fun). But most of all, the cast is really excellent. Daniel Day-Lewis, of course, was amazing, as usual (though I kept wondering whether he wore stilts the entire time, or only about 60% of the time). But the supporting cast around him is pretty damn amazing, too. Especially Tommy Lee Jones.
But altogether I just didn’t care for the film. Maybe you need to be US American to really enjoy it and the cult around Lincoln as a person. I just wanted it to be at least an hour shorter.
Summarising: Generally overrated.