Written by Guillermo Troncoso.
Steven Spielberg has been wanting to make this film for over ten years. At one point he even had Liam Neeson ready to don the top hat and beard. Now the question is, was it worth the wait?
Daniel Day-Lewis is arguably one of the finest actors around and he gives another great performance as Abraham Lincoln. He puts in the work to make Lincoln a believable character. His drive, passion and perseverance to abolish slavery really comes across thanks to Day-Lewis’ excellent portrayal. One can only imagine the heights his performance would have reached had the screenplay allowed for more depth of character.
Lincoln isn’t so much about the man, it’s more about the steps the man took to pass the constitutional amendment to ban slavery from the United States. This was a fascinating moment in history and the film focuses primarily on the political situation that he was in at the time. The unstable climate the American government was in is fascinating and important but the film focuses way too heavily on the politics and merely hints at the personal elements that made Lincoln the man he was.
His relationship with his wife Mary (a wonderful Sally Field) is given some importance, and rightfully so. His relationship with his wife and two sons holds the key to fleshing out this character – if only Spielberg thought so too. There are great scenes that explore the drama of these relationships but they are too few and far between.
Clocking in at two and a half hours, Lincoln ends up becoming a bit of an endurance test. Make no mistake about it, this is a beautifully made film. You can see the love that Spielberg and his team have put in every shot. There’s great acting, direction, cinematography, design and music. The problem is ultimately in the dialogue heavy screenplay that fails to give us anything more than a reverential, text-book approach to one of history’s most interesting and important individuals.
THE REEL WORD: 6/10