The American civil war is consuming people by thousands with no end in sight. Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis), the 16th President of the United States has just won a re-election and is positioning himself along with the Republican Party to pass the 13th Amendment which outlaws slavery which is again the primary basis for the raging war. Understanding that there will never be an opportunity to abolish slavery than the current moment - Lincoln, whips from Congress, lobbyists etc. race against time to get the votes while legally bordering on the means.
Abraham Lincoln is visually known for his unique features - the beard, the hat, the mole, his height. When you see Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, in a few minutes you start believing that it is Abraham Lincoln playing himself as the Daniel Day-Lewis we have seen outside the movies is no longer visible. The minimalist performance throughout and saving the histrionics for only when required works perfectly. However the same cannot be said about others, I trust the director Spielberg for this difference as he would have done enough research on their personality traits. Sally Field as Mary Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens are both vocally loud and melodramatic yet impactful. While James Spader plays an interesting and entertaining role as Bilbo and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is wasted as Robert Lincoln. Most scenes involve a large cast in the canvas, the experience of Steven Spielberg clearly shows in the details of how the extras and the background characters react to situations.
The screenplay may not be innovative as it follows a linear approach but the complexity of letting the audience in on the bits of information which most already know is perfect to keep up the anticipation, interest and pace. Another aspect that standout is the beautiful production design - again minimalistic. While the backdrop is set on the raging civil war, there is no actual war sequence shown except for the aftermath in battlefields. The period settings look very realistic that includes makeup, costumes, buildings and city view - but not something we are seeing for the first time especially from Mr. Spielberg. Even the color tone of the movie looks authentic but one may not feel drawn to the movie just by the appearance. The background score stays in the background and is impactful when required. Kennedy and Lincoln, though celebrated for their time in the highest office - are even more known for their assassinations and conspiracies surrounding them. While this movie doesn't indulge much into the assassination of the protagonist, how they showed it is innovative.
A near perfect adaptation of one of the most celebrated Presidents of the United States set in the backdrop of one of the deadliest civil wars.