Yesterday afternoon Jan and I took in the latest bio-pic about Abraham Lincoln. Produced and directed by Steven Spielberg and with a script by Tony Kushner based on parts of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s magisterial Team of Rivals: The Political Genuis of Abraham Lincoln.
Daniel Day-Lewis breathes new life in a character that must be very difficult to re-imagine in useful and dramatic ways. He pulls it off. I read one review that called the performance “spellbinding.” Yep. And also his supporting cast are all equal to their tasks, with particular tips of the hat to Sally Field’s interpretation of Mary Todd Lincoln, David Strathairn’s William Seward & Tommy Lee Jones’ Thaddeus Stevens. Jones almost steals the show. And that, let me say, is saying something.
Most reviews range from positive to raves. Some fault it for being too slow moving, too talky, and not offering anything “new.”
I loved it. And I loved how it developed, I love the talky & I disagree about the new.
For me the take away was how at a turning point in history a band, the House of Representatives, packed with sociopaths, sycophants, self-serving, bigoted, narrow-minded men looking for the main chance through a remarkable sequence of events were manipulated and pulled into taking action on ending slavery once and for all within the American Republic.
I came away from this film with a lightness of heart, feeling that if we could pull this thing off as people, real people, with such a litany of shortcomings, well, maybe, possibly, we might even pull back and not destroy ourselves – as, I tend usually to think is going to be our fate as human beings, a failed evolutionary experiment.
But, for us, that has to be about as good as it can get…
My only criticism is that I felt the film had three endings. I would have been completely satisfied with where I felt it should have ended. I would have been equally satisfied with the second spot I thought it could end. And, I was mildly annoyed where it finally ended… Only mildly.
This is a big recommendation.
Both thumbs and big toes up…