The Better Angels (2014)
Critic Consensus: Malick-inspired but not as inspired as Malick, The Better Angels muffles an interesting idea under ponderous execution.
Indiana, 1817. The entire nation, only 40 years old and a few years removed from a second war of independence, is raw. Men, women, and children alike must battle nature and disease to survive in remote log cabins. This is young Abraham Lincoln's world. Spanning three years of the future president's childhood, The Better Angels explores his family, the hardships that shaped him, the tragedy that marked him forever, and the two women who guided him to immortality. Written and directed by A.J. Edwards, The Better Angels delves into visual and narrative poetry to express the Lincolns' world. The stark wilderness they inhabit comes alive in stunning black-and-white cinematography, and the story follows the lyrical course of the characters, who struggle physically and emotionally. They are forced to take on new additions to the family, learning what acceptance and empathy really mean. With an elegant touch and extreme attention to historical accuracy, Edwards shows the austerity of the era and reveals what shaped one of history's most distinctive leaders. (c) Amplify Releasing … More
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as Tom Lincoln
as Sarah Lincoln
as Nancy Lincoln
as Mr. Crawford
as Uncle Samuel
as Aunt Elizabeth
as Reverend Elkins
as Young Schoolgirl
as Johnny Kongapod
as The Lawyer
as Bounty Hunter
as Field Hand
as Frail Child
as The Messenger
as Sarah's Friend
as Bounty Hunter
as Welcoming Neighbor
as Neighbor Child / Boy...
as Lincoln's Neighbor
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Critic Reviews for The Better Angels
It feels more like a poem. Or, at times, a symphony. But it's much less effective as an actual movie.
"God tells truths in parables," someone says - a line that Edwards most likely aspires to take possession of, as if his poetic, pictorial parable had its own truths to tell.
The narrative is gentle and sparse. The beautifully photographed imagery, shot in elegant, deep-focus black-and-white, is exceptional. The music is richly classical.
A gorgeous look at the raw, wooded Indiana of the early 1800s and a dreamy study of the boy Lincoln who was destined to leave it behind.
History, as subject matter, is hard enough to sell as cinema. The Better Angels will not make the struggle any easier.
Audience Reviews for The Better Angels
Edwards doesn't even try to hide the obvious and unoriginal way that he emulates Malick's style, and he seems more concerned with creating a powerful meditative experience than offering any real insight into what shaped Lincoln in his childhood to become the man he would be.
A spare, bucolic "Tree of Life"-style boyhood of Lincoln which aims at a strange power but is normal.
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