Jeffrey's Review of Lincoln
Steven Spielberg's Lincoln is a brilliant piece of film-making. It offers an intelligent take on the later part of the Civil War, and does so in a manner that completely transports you to the times. We see the political intrigue of the time in a totally unique manner. Spielberg manages to take something that could be dry, the passage of the 13th Amendment, and makes it in to a spellbinding experience. It's the closest you'll come to watching history unfold (though certainly a particular view of history).
In an undeniably brilliant, Oscar-worthy performance, Daniel Day-Lewis inhibits the man of Lincoln in a way any other actor would be incapable of. The expressive nature of his face is evident in every scene, depicting a conflicted man carrying a profound amount of sadness, but with a charm and wit that manages to conceal it. He delivers his lines in a completely authentic manner, and seemingly with accurate inflections and pitch. It's a performance that simply mesmerizes you with its depth. And that is one performance from a cast of film legends that properly accentuate, not detract from the film, with Tommy Lee Jones giving another memorable performance.
The writing is another aspect of Lincoln that really sets the film a part. It masters the dialect of the time, without compromising the prose and distinction of the words used by men of stature in that era. The incredibly capable cast chews on the dialogue, and delivers it such that, even with some of its complexities, one can understand the feelings being conveyed. The script also does a good job in giving insight to the different political machinations that were on going, with great uses of the House chamber.
The historical accuracy seems to be strong, from at least a mainline standpoint. The exact extent of Lincoln's involvement in pushing through the Amendment's passage is not universally agreed upon, but the record does seem to indicate more than a cursory support of the Amendment. The historical characters are all depicted well, and with fairness. Like a lot of mainstream thought on the Civil War, the film is too simplistic in its view of the conflict and the place slavery held in the struggle. There were a number of reasons for the split, and most in the North didn't regard slavery as the paramount reason for prosecuting the conflict. The film did acknowledge the wide-ranging views of slavery, which was a welcomed change, but was perhaps too vague on Lincoln's actual feelings. It did a good job, however, of showing the embattled nature of Lincoln, who was wildly criticized from everyone on the political spectrum, and was a man under a tremendous amount of pressure.
Overall, Lincoln is moving, beautifully acted, written with great care, and truly memorable. One of the year's best.