Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Lincoln’ Review: Day-Lewis Triumphs, Overall Film Dull

“Lincoln” is a film that has superb actors, an ambitious vision and a legendary director. Just because we have these three key ingredients, it doesn’t automatically mean the film is going to be spectacular, in this case anyway.

“Lincoln” is not a biopic about our nation’s 16th president, it’s about the President pushing to end slavery and the Civil War.

All in all, Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” does not feel like your typical Spielberg film, which can be both a good and bad thing. It’s not as epic or as engaging as some of his most classic films are; yet it does show the range this fine director does have.

There are certain scenes in “Lincoln” that put me in awe of the President and of Spielberg as a filmmaker. There is one scene in particular where Lincoln is on horseback on the battlegrounds and he takes his hat off to all the deceased soldiers. It’s a powerful moment and in that moment, Spielberg captured the heart of Lincoln.

However, the majority of the movie bored me and it didn’t even bore me to tears. I knew the film was going to focus on the passing of the 13th Amendment and not Lincoln’s life in general, but there are so many scenes full of dialogue, that the film feels like a history lesson.

The story between Lincoln and his oldest son Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) could have been cut out completely. It’s actually a waste of Gordon-Levitt’s talent and if Spielberg hadn’t been the director, it would be a wonder why he took the part on at all.

Sally Field, who plays Mary Todd, deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Her intense portrayal of Lincoln’s wife truly expresses the obsession and grief Mary went through after losing their son, Willie. Field was able to get these strong emotions through to the audience in very few scenes, making her potential nomination all the more hopeful.

And of course, we need to talk about Daniel Day-Lewis here. Sometimes a more subtle performance is more difficult and engaging than an outward, bold performance. Day-Lewis captures the delicate, yet powerful nature of our nation’s 16th president. If I had to guess at the beginning of the year, who would take home the Best Actor Oscar in 2013, I would’ve guessed Day-Lewis. Now, I can tell you he’ll certainly be nominated, but I can’t bet on him winning, not with all of the other strong male performances this year.

“Lincoln” will most likely be up for a Best Picture nomination, but it doesn’t deserve one. “Lincoln” is a great film about the passing of the 13th Amendment and dives into the President’s life a bit, but it shouldn’t be a 2012 Best Picture contender.

“Lincoln” has some visually beautiful scenes and is forcefully led by Day-Lewis, but the overall picture isn’t memorable compared other presidential films or ones that have come out this year.

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