Lincoln

Lincoln

(Steven Spielberg, 2012)

Rating: 4/5

Reviewed by Dave Lancaster

Summary
: Daniel Day-Lewis' incredible performance anchors Spielberg's wordy political drama allowing the narrative an access point to reign supreme over the masses.




'Lincoln' could well be the least 'Spielberg'-esque film Steven Spielberg has ever made. Gone are the sweeping vistas, epic action scenes and even John Williams' score is talked down from the usual dizzy melodic heights, but that's not to say that 'Lincoln' is dull, even when the majority of the scenes are interiors of people in wigs and suits talking about American politics.

Tony Kushner's script largely dispenses with backstory, instead focussing solely on the last four months of Lincoln's presidency - a time when the president (Day-Lewis) worked hard to end the American civil war while abolishing slavery just before he got assassinated. He's got a haunted, depressed wife (Sally Field) to care for and confide with, just as his son (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is returning home determined to enlist in the war that Lincoln is prolonging just enough to pass his historical 13th amendment to end slavery.



This is no family drama; there are a lot more characters to contend with. Lincoln's main confidant William Seward (David Strathairn) hires smarmy WN Bilbo (James Spader) and his associates (John Hawkes, Tim Blake Nelson) to secure some votes from the opposition even if it means playing dirty, prompting a great scene in which Spader, Lee Nelson and Hawkes perch themselves from the upper seats of the United States House of Representatives observing how politicians squirm at proposed bills, knowing which ones would be easily led and which are off limits before they move in for the real hunt.

During these all-important moments set in the Constitution debates, Tommy Lee Jones does his best work in years as abolitionist Republican Thaddeus Stevens - a man of secrets, passion and biting wit forever in danger of falling on his own sword but he'd set himself up for the fall just to get a point across to an audience.   



Jackie Earle Haley plays the leader of a Confederate delegation heading towards Washington to negotiate peace but that'll never happen if he knows about the plan to abolish slavery - remember that slaves were dealt with as a commodity and such a move would effectively strangle half of the civil war's economy. The military angle is portrayed by a splendid Jared Harris as Ulysses S. Grant. There are plenty more angles too, all populated by excellent actors whose familiarity and grace helps make the complex ideas much easier to follow, but it's Lincoln (and indeed Day-Lewis) who so masterfully guides his audience towards their places on the domino board with his warm stories, simmering passion and even jokes before sitting back to watch the pieces fall with such stately intellect.

More moments of Lincoln on his own would've gone down well, but instead we get to see a man of the people turning the cogs with brave precision - there are only a few scenes of Lincoln at his most vulnerable and the assassination isn't even one of them. Instead he's seen as a fixer who glides through society almost like a ghost, willing people to change their minds with his stature and authority.

There would be a temptation to make this an all-American flag waving epic, but this is a true political drama. It is less concerned with American history or even the president himself. Instead, it spellbinds its audience with a guided tour of the political machine. It could be any country at any time - the interactions here are universal.

Kushner's script has so much to say, urgently pushing out so much great dialogue via the trained mouths of some of Hollywood's finest. That is joy enough, but when the message is so important it makes the viewing experience all the more enjoyable. Spielberg wisely lets Kushner and Day-Lewis spearhead the endeavour, but while his usual flourishes are subdued there is no denying that this is a master director at work. And this is a true American masterwork.

Watch the UK theatrical trailer and view more stills from 'Lincoln' HERE at Cinemas Online.

Other film news

WATCH: Epic 2-minute film celebrating the unseen heroes of the film industry

Brothers and Sisters is back in cinemas with a new epic spot for Pearl & Dean celebrating the unseen heroes of the film industry.

Deepwater Horizon - real events seen on screen

To celebrate the release of Deepwater Horizon, based on the true story of the devastating 2010 incident and starring Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson, Dylan O’Brien, Gina Rodriguez, Kurt Russell and John Malkovich, we’ve taken a look at some of the greatest true stories ever told on film.

From Green Room to Misery: The Best Claustrophobic Thrillers

Most film fans will admit to reveling in the glory of siege thrillers. Who doesn’t somewhat sadistically enjoy sitting comfortably, watching those on screen suffer the horrific, claustrophobic stuff of nightmares? In homage to all films that have incidentally saved on expensive production costs by filming the entire movie in (mostly) one setting, we pay tribute to the newly crowned leader of said genre - Green Room out on Blu-ray and DVD September 19. We’ve listed some of the most genius, gripping films to get you in the mood. Ready your inner Houdini, here are the top ten movies all claustrophobes should give a wide berth.

Saul Bass: 20 Iconic Film Posters (book review)

Saul Bass: 20 Iconic Film Posters book review By Jennifer Bass and Pat Kirkham Laurence King Publishing September 2016, £19.95 You know when you're looking at a Saul Bass design (or someone ripping him off). The deceptively simple style, the direct focus, the twisted shapes, the solid colours, the striking fonts, the fact that you've been staring at it for way too long as the story within creeps out to greet you... Yes, this is the work of a master.

Check out the trailer for Batman: The Killing Joke here!

Starring Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, Batman: The Killing Joke arrives on Blu-rayTM, DVD & Steelbook on August 8, is available on EST from July 26 and comes to Vue Cinemas for one night only July 25.

Tale of Tales: Great cinematic fairytales without happy endings

Tale of Tales tells the story of a bitter quest of a Queen, two mysterious sisters who provoke the passion of a king, and a King that marries his daughter off to an ogre. These tales are inspired by the fairytales by Giambattista Basile and stars Salma Hayek, John C. Reilly, Vincent Cassell, and Toby Jones

Check out this incredible infographic all about THE REVENANT!

With the Best Picture Oscar winning modern masterpiece The Revenant arriving on DVD and Blu-ray from June 6th, now's a perfect time to look at the film's facts and figures in a fantastic infographic.

GoT a good thing going: Fan favourite Game of Thrones characters revealed!

With the added bonus of the show now being ahead of its source material, nobody knows exactly what lies ahead. Even though we’ve loved and lost many of our favourite characters, we wanted to find out who GoT fans will be getting behind this season. Casino Bonus Tips have conducted a survey of fans to find out which characters they are rooting for. We’ve grouped the top five below, along with why you should keep an eye on them in season six.

Creed: The Rocky legacy by the numbers

As the Oscar nominated Rocky sequel Creed steps out of the ring and to Blu-ray everywhere, let's take a look at the modern classic's stats by the numbers...

The Ninth Configuration

Catch 22 meets Shutter Island, William Peter Blatty's The Ninth Configuration is as deranged and as brilliant as that mash-up promises.

Power up! The best game to film adaptations!

Movies based on video games are always action packed with great characters that are already loved due to their game counterparts! Over the years all types of video games have been brought to the big screen, and to celebrate Ratchet & Clank coming in to cinemas on April 29th, we take a look at some of the best game to film adaptations.

EXCLUSIVE: Watch a clip from Fargo Year 2

Fargo: Year 2 is out now on Digital HD and on DVD from 25th April, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. To celebrate the release, we've got an exclusive "Dancing" scene clip from the brilliantly thrilling and darkly funny offshoot of the Coen Brothers' Oscar winning film classic.

Watch the first official, full length JASON BOURNE trailer here!

JASON BOURNE sees original actor and director, Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass, return to the iconic series they created along with Alicia Vikander, Julia Stiles, Vincent Cassel and Tommy Lee Jones. Check out the first official, full length trailer here!

Joy: The most famous female inventions in entrepreneurial history!

JOY is available on Digital HD, Blu-ray™ and DVD from April 25, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. To celebrate the release, we reveal the most famous female inventions in entrepreneurial history!

Check out the TRAILER for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story HERE!

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is the first film in the new series of standalone Star Wars movies from Lucasfilm. It tells the story of how a group of unlikely heroes unite to undertake a daring and seemingly impossible mission to steal the plans for the Death Star.

Always the Bridesmaid... Kristen Wiig's most underrated performances

Her latest role in Welcome to Me sees her as Alice, an extraordinary woman who after winning the lottery, buys her own TV talk show to broadcast her dirty laundry as both a form of exhibitionism and a platform to share her peculiar views on everything from nutrition to relationships to neutering pets. As her national audience rapidly grows, her family, friends and colleagues all become increasingly entangled in Alice's show.

From Goodfellas to Black Mass, cinema's heaviest hitting true crime films

To celebrate the release of Black Mass on Blu-ray and DVD on March 21st and on Digital HD March 19, we take a look at a selection of films based on crime stories.

From Brooklyn to The Graduate: Love triangles on film

Love triangles are the stuff of Hollywood legend, with many a classic film basing its premise on the agonising choice between two very different lovers. The wonderfully romantic BROOKLYNperfectly portrays the dilemma of choosing between two futures, with standout performances from the three young leads (Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson) – so, to celebrate its release on EST, Blu-ray and DVD on the 29thFeb, we’re taking a look at some of the other greatest love triangles on film...

The best of Benicio: Del Toro's most iconic performances

His latest performance as the shady Columbian operative known only as Alejandro in SICARIO (out on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms NOW) is nominated for a Supporting Actor BAFTA, yet controversially snubbed by the Academy this year amongst a number of non-white omissions. Never mind the Academy, let’s take a look at some of Del Toro’s most impressive performances to date...

Moral ambiguity in the movies: Modern cinema's greatest anti-heroes

In celebration of Sicario being released on Blue-ray, DVD, and digital platforms from February 1st, 2016 courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment we honour Benicio Del Toro’s performance as the ethically questionable Alejandro by examining other characters that fall into the realm of moral ambiguity...

Find Your Cinema

Cinemas Online supply showtimes for every cinema in the UK. To find out what's playing near you and to register for weekly showtimes updates from your local cinema, just enter your postcode:

Advertisement : content continues below
Advertisement : content continues below
Advertisement

| Privacy Policy | Contact Cinemas Online