Despite Lincoln’s multiple award nominations, because of the mixed reviews it has received and with a fairly long running time of 2 hours and 30 minutes, I approached watching this movie with some degree of trepidation.
The movie, set in 1865, recounts the President Lincoln’s (Daniel Day-Lewis) efforts to abolish slavery once and for all and simultaneously end the bloody civil war ravaging America. However this is not a popular amendment, and his hopes to pass it rely upon the support of Republican Francis Preston Blair (Hal Holbrook) whose influence can ensure the support of western and border states.
Meanwhile Radical Republican and fierce opponent of slavery Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) and Secretary of state William Seward (David Strathairn) strive to drum up support amongst the House of Representatives to secure votes in support of Lincoln’s anti-slavery campaign. When passage of the critical 13th Amendment is finally put to a vote, it is very narrowly passed by a margin of two votes. Slavery is abated and the civil war is brought to a swift close.
Daniel Day-Lewis is stunning as Lincoln, capturing the President’s iconic look, voice and quirky personality perfectly. His charismatic performance is subtle yet engaging, and you find yourself constantly rooting old Honest Abe even in the face of massive opposition. There are not many other actors I could imagine playing one of Americas greatest presidents, but Day-Lewis takes it all in his stride.
The supporting cast are nothing short of amazing too, with special mentions going to Sally Field’s portrayal of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens. While Day-Lewis IS Lincoln, the steel minded leader, Sally Field captures Lincoln’s repressed emotional side, and Tommy Lee Jones embodies Lincoln’s more cunning, devious side. Together the three actors effectively and skilfully portray the three different sides of Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln is by no means a short movie: There is no action or fast pace to it, and there is a hell of a lot of talking, but surprisingly the movie is captivating and at no point did I find myself getting bored. While this is understandably not one for the kids or people with short attention spans, it is still masterfully made and completely worthy of any awards it is nominated for and/or wins.