Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Joseph Gordon-Levitt
It has been far too long since the last Amateur Review! Last week was taken up with the sights and sounds of Paris and just generally viewing a lot of films (and not reviewing). It’s vain to assume the posts have been missed however it seems like a necessary formality to apologise for this absence, especially in the middle of awards season! Let’s start with Lincoln.
As the Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves. Lincoln is the striking account of the president’s plight to pass the 13th amendment in the House of Representatives which would render slavery outlawed.
On paper, this looks like a classic picture. One of America’s most interesting historical figures, a whole host of the industry’s finest actors and Spielberg at the helm. Yet even with this knowledge, Lincoln surpasses expectation still.
For such a rich period of American history with so many colossal themes it would be far too easy for Lincoln to become the ‘greatest hits of one of America’s best’. A climax of a movie involving bearded men in the House of Representatives voting on an amendment is not typically thrilling for today’s blockbuster fans, but it really is, even though the outcome of the vote is known to most. With that said, as this is such an epic story with so many characters, sometimes the odd plot thread is lost in the massiveness of it all (yes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, you were partially underwritten.)
Daniel Day-Lewis was Lincoln, flawless and utterly mesmerising. It is a hugely internal performance, a man of steel with a surprising sense of humour and the proclivity to tell some of the best tales. The physicality of this historic great is staggering. All 6”4, with his stiff, gangly gait; imposing in a non menacing kind of way. Sometimes stooping in shadows showing him as a fragile and contingent man; other times stoically illuminated by light giving us an indication of the gritty luminary he was to be remembered as.
In a room filled with so many strong politicians of the day, Lincoln could command a room. Similarly, on a set of so many true and iconic actors, Day-Lewis has that presence and steals every single scene even with his tinny, softly spoken voice. It’s hard to pinpoint the strongest element of the movie: the stunning art direction, the clever script, the impeccable character acting or the immense directorial restraint. If the Academy doesn’t take to any of the aforementioned aspects; they really are a fussy lot.