Thursday, December 6, 2012
**Now nominated for the 2012 Best Picture Academy Award.**
Of course, 4 STARS!
"I have yet to see a performance in 2012 that could come close to rivaling Daniel Day-Lewis' triumphant portrayal of our 16th President."
History buffs rejoice! It's as if the first news footage of Abraham Lincoln was found and put onto the big screen, it is that real. We are now able to see him as a real person and not just the stellar man we've only read in history books. From the first scene and we the audience see Day-Lewis' face, portraying a man who has been commander-in-chief of the United States during 4 years of war, you would have to be blind to not see the almost haunting exhaustion of having the weight of the entire country on the shoulders of his tall, slender frame.
Lincoln is directed by the great Steven Spielberg and from the first moment I heard this movie was even being considered, I wanted to see it. The film begins in 1865 in the final months of the American Civil War and focuses on the already stressed President trying to get the 13th amendment past, which was the amendment that would end slavery in America. It is literally a race against time to get the amendment passed because it has to happen before the war ends, all the while Lincoln is battling his own fight with many members of his Cabinet over freeing the slaves. The tension builds and builds on this man throughout the whole film with his troubled wife by his side (played beautifully by Sally Field) and his whiny eldest son Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Truly, the only happiness comes from his youngest son, the rambunctious Tad (portrayed in a stellar breakout performance by Gulliver McGrath).
There really isn't much more I can say about Daniel Day-Lewis' performance. It is simply a tour-de-force in acting, emotion, and proof of what one actor can achieve in his craft. Sally Field had to fight tooth and nail with Spielberg to play the immensely unstable Mary Todd Lincoln, mostly because he didn't think she could pull it off because of her age; Field is 10 years older than Daniel Day-Lewis and 20 years older than Mary Todd Lincoln was at the time the film is set. Well, this critic is thankful her persistence payed off. She put forth all the emotion (and then some) needed to play the famously over emotional first lady, who would later be committed by her eldest son Robert. Speaking of that son, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was definitely an interesting choice in casting, however he executed his performance flawlessly. Also, speaking of casting, I loved the great Hal Holbrook being in this movie. He won an Emmy playing Lincoln in a 1974 television mini-series and also in the sweeping and epic television mini-series North and South (1985), still one of my favorite movies of all time even though it was on television.
The screenplay was the other flawless feature of this movie. The dialog was so engaging, dramatic, emotional, and yes, even at times funny. Everyone in the theater laughed many times, including my friend and I. Lincoln was written by Tony Kushner, who also penned the incredible Munich. The attention to detail was nothing short of amazing. When he was writing this meaty drama, Kushner was obviously trying to humanize this man of history and the other characters and not make it all so serious all the time. Lincoln is going to play on all of the viewers' emotions. It is 150 minutes of darkness, dread, blood, sweat, tears, tension, and yes, even a few laughs. This film is proof that this icon of history we've been reading about our whole lives, did in fact exist, and was great without hunting all the vampires.
Thank you and see you at the next blog.