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Daniel Day-Lewis characteristically delivers in this witty, dignified portrait that immerses the audience in its world and entertains even as it informs.
All Critics (274)
| Top Critics (51)
| Fresh (244)
| Rotten (30)
| DVD (4)
It's very good, but that's not the point. It's necessary.
What a feat from Day-Lewis: the nearest thing a 21st-century biopic can get to a seance.
'Lincoln' works as a snapshot of a great man without ever slipping into a portrait of sainthood.
This is movie magic -- history coming to life, before our eyes.
It's the most remarkable movie Steven Spielberg has made in quite a spell, and one of the things that makes it remarkable is how it fulfills those expectations by simultaneously ignoring and transcending them.
Lincoln paints a powerful and compelling portrait of the man who has become an icon. We don't need to see more of his life to understand how rare a figure he was - this window is more than sufficient.
Lincoln's flaws don't keep it from succeeding on several levels: as a showcase for Daniel Day-Lewis; and as an uncomfortable and pointed reminder about the hideous racism that's an unavoidable piece of America's makeup.
Lincoln works as well as it does because the Abraham Lincoln biopic chooses to focus on the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment.
A surprisingly low-key character piece -- which is all the better for it's subtlety.
Lincoln is a revealing window of the backroom political deals that go into the process of the abolition of slavery and uniting of the nation, as well as Lincoln's own personal relationships with his family.
It's a platitudinous political drama about how the House of Representatives passed Lincoln's baby, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which outlawed slavery.
Lincoln remains an honorable movie compounded of irresolute but mostly upright intentions; and its strengths are only a little undercut by the synthetic quality of its ambition.
This pathetic melodrama is always more interesting when focusing on the politics involved but a very schmaltzy "life lesson" whenever Lincoln appears - shown as a wise and mythical storyteller of pure heart (but fine with bribing, of course), never a complex real man.
Spielberg updates Triumph of the Will for a liberal American agenda; and that's what's wrong with this overview on the efforts to free the American slaves constitutionally. It's unfortunately heavyhanded, more propaganda than cinema. Still, it's a story that needed telling, and right now it's the only game in town. So. It ain't terrible.
Spielberg and Day-Lewis are masterful in "Lincoln". The material is rife with C-SPAN-like moments rendered quite compelling due to their execution.
The plot, while based on a quite complex historical situation, is told simply and efficiently. It is this efficiency that threatens to blunt the film's impact as it sacrifices emotion for historical accuracy.
But the high point for "Lincoln" is to witness the master class of acting put on by the committed Daniel Day-Lewis. He makes Lincoln a marvel to behold. And his performance makes going back to 1865 worth it.
First off: lots of history here that I didn't know. I didn't understand the legal technicalities of wanting a constitutional amendment to free the slaves; how Lincoln thought that the Emanicipation Proclamation wouldn't hold after peace was declared as the Supreme Court might squash it. I didn't know that Thaddeus Stevens, rep from Pennsylvania (yeaaah, Pennsylvania!) was so cool or that, as I later read, his interest in racial equality was based on the bible: Egyptians kept Jews as slaves and God visited plagues on them, he thought America condoning slavery would keep us from being prosperous--I don't agree with his reasoning, but I admire the end result and his tenacity. Secondly, the willingness of Lincoln to sully himself in the trenches of politics to get to a higher good was astounding and I wish we had a little more of that in our current-Obama-led administration. Politics ain't pretty, Barrack. My one itsy-bitsy criticism is this: Spielberg did a wonderful job of not sentimentalizing Afro-Americans-then-slaves, great scene where is he talking to his wife's maid saying "I don't know any negroes" for example and you get the point that his is a fight about justice, not some rose colored glasses reading of human nature, but John Williams musical accompaniment was treakle: every time the camera lingered on a dark face the violins swelled and I thought it dragged the story into the Hallmark forest. Sally Fields was wonderful as the hysterical Mary Todd Lincoln--their fight over their son's joining the military was brilliant and bone-chilling. And I loved the blue-gray wash of the film.
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