Lincoln is the latest offering from Steven Spielberg, rated by Empire Magazine as the greatest director of all time. His film repertoire precedes him with Jaws (1975), Saving Private Ryan (1998) and War Horse (2011) to name a few. The film was recently nominated for 10 BAFTA’s and 12 Academy Award’s including Best Film and Best Director and a pair of nominations in Best Actor for the brilliant Daniel Day-Lewis. Whilst not one of Spielberg’s greatest films, it comes close and can definitely be considered a masterpiece in its own right.
Lincoln follows the revolutionary 16th President of the United States in the final four months of his life and the battle to abolish slavery from America. The film is led by Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, who is supported by a superb cast including Tommy Lee-Jones and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
The film opens with a frantic battle scene that, whilst not the goriest, is hard to watch mainly because we are thrown straight into the middle of a close quarter fight having to watch men die without being offered any reprieve. Some of the scenes showing the aftermaths of battles are absolutely harrowing to watch and at times, poignant.
This desperate battle continues throughout the film, although not on the battlefield and between soldiers, it is instead between politicians. After the opening battle we are introduced to Abraham Lincoln (Day-Lewis) talking to a pair of black soldiers about the battle of Jenkins Ferry. This is the start of a film expertly led by Day-Lewis is both powerful and emotive in his portrayal of Abe Lincoln.
Daniel Day-Lewis excels in his role as the 16th American President, offering a performance which Lincoln himself would struggle to better. The enchanting and inspiring character is funny and relaxed in some scenes, adept and powerful in others. He delivers his lines with the passion and expertise which sometimes draws the attention away from the excellence of the supporting actors and actresses. He dominates each and every one of his scenes.
Lady Lincoln, played by Sally Field (The Amazing Spider-Man, Forrest Gump), often embodies the traits of her on-screen counterpart, making their scenes together brilliant to watch. Robert Lincoln (Gordon-Levitt) is almost as expertly acted as his in-film father Lobbyist’s for Lincoln, the eccentric William Bilbo (James Spader), John Hawkes (Robert Latham) and Richard Schell (Tim Blake-Nelson) are a comedic trio and although often overshadowed by William Bilbo, they all offer their own humorous input to the film. Bilbo’s snide remarks within the ‘House’ definitely raise moments to snigger, even amidst the heavy issues being discussed on screen.
One of the most stand-out characters besides Abe Lincoln is Thaddeus Stevens played by Tommy Lee-Jones (Men in Black I, II, and III). His Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor is well deserved and it would be a shock if Lee-Jones didn’t win it. His performance is a powerful one and needs to be witnessed to be fully understood.
Lincoln is slow in parts but the tempo is upped throughout with some laugh out loud parts. It has a feel of The Social Network (2010) during the scenes inside the House of Representatives. The all-important vote scene is tense to watch, despite the outcome already being known in hindsight. The celebrations of the characters after the vote are almost infectious enough to raise a sense of overwhelming uplift in audiences.
All-in-all Spielberg has once again delivered a brilliant film which, when regarding his past achievements with historical works, is expected. The film is excellently cast and it is exceedingly difficult to pick out any weak performances. Some of the shots are brilliantly done and have as much power as some of the films dialogue. It is evident just why this is the film at the forefront of this year’s awards race.
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