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

J.J. Abrams, Zachary Quinto, President Obama and more pay tribute to Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy, best known for acting as Dr Spock on 'Star Trek' and directing films such as 'Three Men and a Little Baby', died on Friday in California following a long battle with a pulmonary disease. He was 83.

'Birdman' soars to Best Picture victory at the Oscars

'Birdman' was the big winner at this year's Oscars, taking home three of the major wins: Best Picture, Best Director and Best (Original) Screenplay. It meant that writer, director and producer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu walked away with three Oscars on the same night. The quirky film about actors also scooped Best Cinematography.

New Robert Langdon film announced: 'Inferno' starring Tom Hanks

Following the roaring successes of 'The Da Vinci Code' and 'Angels and Demons', the character of Robert Langdon is returning to the big screen with Tom Hanks dusting off the hair straighteners once again for the lead role and Oscar winning director Ron Howard back in charge of the production.

Benedict Cumberbatch married on Valentine's Day with 'Sherlock' co-star as his best man

Oscar nominated 'Imitation Game' star Benedict Cumberbatch married on Valentine's Day, it has now been revealed.

Sony eyes new, younger star for 'Spider-Man' franchise reboot

The web of the 'Spider-Man' franchise has become increasingly tangled after mega studios Sony and Marvel agreed to a power sharing contract, effectively meaning that Spider-Man (aka Peter Parker) could enter Marvel's Cinematic Universe (with his Avengers pals) but Sony still retains control.The web of the 'Spider-Man' franchise has become increasingly tangled after mega studios Sony and Marvel agreed to a power sharing contract, effectively meaning that Spider-Man (aka Peter Parker) could enter Marvel's Cinematic Universe (with his Avengers pals) but Sony still retains control.

BAFTAS 2015: Full list of winners as 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' checks out with the most awards

The BAFTAs have been awarded and 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' led the way after the quirky comedy racked up an incredible five gongs with 'Boyhood', 'The Theory of Everything' and 'Whiplash' following up with three a piece. 'Boyhood' scooped three of the biggest with Best Picture, Director and Supporting Actress going to Richard Linklater's 12 year labour of love.

Raunchy 'Fifty Shades of Grey' passes the UK censors uncut

'Fifty Shades of Grey', undoubtedly the most high profile erotic film drama of the year, has been given the seal of approval from the UK film censor board arriving fully uncut with an 18 certificate.

Check out the bizarre photo Chris O'Dowd and Dawn O'Porter welcomed their baby with

Actor Chris O'Dowd and his journalist and TV presenter wife Dawn O'Porter have announced the birth of their child but went against the usual conventions of gushing and posting typical photos.

One dead, two more injured after set collapse on Martin Scorsese's new film 'Silence'

A tragic accident on the set of Martin Scorsese's new film 'Silence' has left one man dead and two more (all in their 50s) injured.

LISTEN: Jeff Bridges releases a spoken word album to help you sleep

The Oscar winning actor's easy-going persona evident over decades of film performances and chilled out concerts has won the Dude legions of abiders but now he's taken his trademark chilled out nature to a whole new level - he's recording an album of sleeping tapes to 'help you get a good night's rest'.

'Ghostbusters': Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon And Leslie Jones to headline female reboot

The female-led reboot of 'Ghostbusters' is now well underway with the four lead stars being revealed by director Paul Feig.

Tom Hardy exits Batman villain flick Suicide Squad, Jake Gyllenhaal refuses to replace him

One of the biggest bits of casting news in the last few months was Tom Hardy's involvement in David Ayer's 'Suicide Squad' - the forthcoming superhero picture also starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne and 'The Wolf of Wall Street' breakout starlet Margot Robbie.

Oscars 2015: The full list of nominations, snubs and surprises

Another year, another set of Oscar nominations and another round of gasps of both joy and shock as the toast of Hollywood is picked by their peers. Leading the pack are two critical darlings each with nine nominations: Wes Anderson's wonderful dramedy 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' and the genre-bending breakthrough 'Birdman'. 'The Imitation Game' followed closely with eight including a surprise Best Director nod.

Woody Allen heads to Amazon to create his first ever TV series

Despite a storied career in stand-up, music and film, Woody Allen has seldom ventured into the world of television, but that's all about to change for the 'Midnight in Paris' Oscar winner.

Full winners list: Golden Globes 2015

The Golden Globes once again spread out the awards and also threw in a few surprises this year.

BAFTAs 2015: The full nominations, predicted winners and shocking snubs!

The British Academy Film Award nominations have been released and they are not without their controversial choices.

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens', Robert Downey Jr and Jennifer Lawrence top Fandango's 2015 list of cinema's most anticipated

According to a survey by Fandango, the new 'Star Wars' reboot 'The Force Awakens' is the most anticipated film of 2015.

Chris Pine talks regret of 'not getting Jack Ryan film right'

Chris Pine has admitted that that his headlining take on the latest incarnation of the espionage franchise 'Jack Ryan' failed and has probably killed his chances of getting a sequel to the film.

Ridley Scott's 'Exodus' film banned in Egypt over 'religious mistakes'

'Exodus: Gods and Kings' has been banned in Egypt, it has been confirmed.

Hacked Sony emails reveal Idris Elba 'should be next James Bond'

The recent leaks of Sony's email database are continuing to flow as more information comes to light, the latest being that studio chairman Amy Pascal is keen to see Daniel Craig's James Bond be replaced by Idris Elba.

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