Don’t worry, I won’t tell you how it ends. The good news is, this film is an elegant, artful look at a man who seems to have been put forth by providence. The acting is impeccable—Oscar-worthy, in fact—and Spielberg’s direction equals it. There is, however, another shoe, but I am hesitant to drop it.
The film explores the last few months of Lincoln’s life and presidency. Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) is trying to end the bloodiest war in history, while at the same time, abolish slavery. Who knew all the same behind-closed-doors cloak-and-dagger politics that goes on today went on in 1865? Lincoln Secretary of State William Seward (David Strathairn) employs every strategy at his disposal, including the sketchy lobbyist W. N. Bilbo (James Spader), to get the job done. Meanwhile, the president must deal with an unstable wife, Mary Todd (Sally Field), and a disgruntled son, Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).
Couple of things: Did Abraham Lincoln go from 19 to 60 overnight? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo or portrait of the man in-between those ages. And then to cast Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln? She’s closer to 70 than 60, and the Lincolns have an 8-year-old child. (I guess I know what made her crazy.) It’s a tad jarring. Day-Lewis is brilliant, but in a way, he’s too good. His Lincoln is a calm, thoughtful, almost soporific speaker, which tends slow the film to a languid pace. All in all, it’s a beautiful film, but if you’re looking for a shot of excitement, you’ll have to go see Skyfall after.
It’s a 7.