Certificate 12A, 2h 29m, ★★★★★★★★☆☆
Daniel Day Lewis stars as Abe in Steven Spielberg’s powerful political drama, set near the end of the American civil war.
The film opens with a brief scene of bloody hand to hand fighting – the only actual battle in the movie. for the most part, the action takes place in Washington D.C. during January of 1865, between Lincoln’s second election and inauguration. In this brief window, Lincoln has an opportunity and a dilemma: End the civil war, one of the bloodiest in history, with a compromise deal with the Confederate army, or push through the 13th amendment to the U.S. constitution, thereby abolishing slavery and forcing the South to surrender.
This issue is at the heart of the drama. The 13th amendment, which states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”is both incendiary and divisive, and Lincoln has to find another 20 votes to get the bill through congress. At the same time he must hold together his own cabinet, keep his generals happy and manage his family. This all plays out like a historical version of The West Wing.
DDL is outstanding as the 16th President, charismatic and witty (helped by an outstanding script), and supporting performances are excellent, notably by Sally Field as Mrs Lincoln, Tommy Lee Jones as Vice President Thaddeus Stevens, David Strathairn as William Seward, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Lincoln’s son Robert, and James Spader, John Hawkes and Tim Blake Nelson as the three political “fixers”, coercing bribing and blackmailing people into voting the right way.
This film earns a solid 8, but no doubt it’ll be hitting above its weight in the Oscars stakes, simply because it’s Lincoln.