Maksim's Review of Lincoln
A brilliant biopic of the iconic XVIth President of the United States, Lincoln is not only a powerful and mesmerizing portrait of a great person, but also a gripping lesson on politics, idealism and history. Impressively directed and perfectly written, Lincoln is an all-time classic and Oscar-worthy political drama which inspires, provokes and provides enough material to think about long after its final credits.
It is very difficult to define Steven Spielberg's movie as a biopic, given the fact that it only describes the last months of President Abraham Lincoln and his final attempt to get the Thirteenth Amendment endorsed. It would be more accurate to say that Lincoln is a political drama, delving not only in the moral and personal qualities of President Lincoln, but also describing political processes related to the Thirteenth Amendment. Unlike some of his previous movies, this time Steven Spielberg does not focus on the emotional side of his project, but on Lincoln's biggest challenge. With the philosophic "anecdotes" told by Lincoln, the raw, but blind idealism of Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) and the stubborn Democrats, Steven Spielberg succeeds to masterfully place the issue of abolishing slavery at a central place and to craft a remarkable political and history lesson for the audience.
Spielberg's devotion to the topic is so professional, that at some moments those who are not familiar in details with the American political system (mostly Europeans like me) might find the story difficult to follow. Yet, by steady pacing and clear overall description of the two dilemmas ahead of Lincoln (how to bring the war to the end and how to get the amendment endorsed), Steven Spielberg manages to hold this part of the audience in his grip.
Probably the most remarkable part of this movie is the political honesty and openness which is shown in it. Abraham Lincoln may be described as a rare,noble,iconic and caring politician and person, but the game he is involved in, is far from being noble. Lincoln (and Steven Spielberg) remind us that little has changed in the game of politics for the past century. Great decisions, laws and amendments have been endorsed with the help of playing political games behind the scenes, pulling the right triggers, promising administrative positions and fighting the absurd partisanship within the Democrats and the Republicans.
In this political drama, President Lincoln is no stranger to hard and sometimes amoral decisions meant to be for the greater good of young nation. Speaking of Lincoln, it must be pointed out that it is an extreme rarity to have an actor so much in love with his character. Daniel Day-Lewis is an incredibly realistic depiction of Abraham Lincoln. Describing his performance as brilliant will not be enough: Day-Lewis is moving, but soft; inspiring and charismatic; a true believer in the greater good, but also determined person when morally complex decisions should be made. After his second Oscar for Best Leading Performance in There Will Be Blood (and two other previous nominations)it seemed that he could hardly surprise the audience with anything new. However, this time his smitten performance of Abraham Lincoln has surprised all and a third Oscar for Best Leading Performance would be most deserved. Another character which stands out among the excellent movie cast, is Tommy Lee Jones' Thaddeus Stevens. His idealistic, raw and uncompromising, radical character is an example of one of reasons for political partisanship. Jones' performance in The House of Representatives brings the much needed spicy content to the debates and his final scene of the movie (I am not going to spoil it) is absolutely delightful.It is unlikely that he would earn something more than the Best Supporting Actor nomination, but even if it does this would be deserved as well.
Lincoln is one of those movies which are destined to become classics and why not to deliver third Best Director and Best Motion Picture Award to Steven Spielberg. With the typical grand scope for a Spielberg movie, this delivery is a political drama to remember. There could be drawn so many references to the politics of nowadays that this movie could also be considered a lesson for some modern US politicians. A must see classic !