Movie review: Lincoln (M)

A GREAT majority of historical and political films can be a hard slog to watch.

Lincoln is tipped to perform well at this year’s Academy Awards after receiving 12 nominations including best picture, best director, best actor, best supporting actor, best supporting actress and best adapted screenplay.

The film takes part primarily in January, 1865, when Lincoln is working to get the 13th Amendment (the abolition of slavery) through the House of Representatives.

With the Republicans for the abolishment and the Democrats fiercly opposing it, Lincoln and his men must find a legal way to sway some of the Democrats to his side.

At the same time Lincoln (Daniel Day Lewis) is trying to negotiate an end to the American Civil War.

Day Lewis is excellent as Lincoln. It is no surprise he has been tipped as a favourite to take home the best actor Oscar.

Day Lewis’ Lincoln is the playful storyteller among a group of serious people. The way he recalls his favourite tales and stories are often a metaphor for the solution to a political problem.

A large and supremely talented supporting cast also put in excellent performances led by Tommy Lee Jones as radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens and James Spader as a political operative.

Sally Field plays Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd and David Strathairn is good as Lincoln’s advisor and friend William Seward.

Every actor and actress closely resembles their real-life, historical counterpart and it adds a great amount of realism to the film. 

But for all the talent and all the history that this film has, it is still tough work for a two-and-a-half hour film.

Maybe it’s because I don’t have a great passion or interest in American history but with so many long speeches, the sequences and moments you are interested in tend to get lost in the film.

And I know that the 13th Amendment is one of the most important parts of American and world history but Lincoln just didn’t hold my attention for the whole time. This is often a problem with political and historical films.

Filmmakers and directors have to stick as closely as they can to historical accuracy, but many historical events involve the signing of documents or parliamentary debate which isn’t very exciting on its own.

It is the moment directly after history has been altered that people remember. 

You remember where you were the moment you heard the news, not when you heard the events leading up to that moment. 

So if you want to do some Oscars research, you must see Daniel Day Lewis’ portrayal of Lincoln. It shows why he is such a respected actor.

The film’s plot centre’s on an important point in history, and if you are interested in some quick historical education rather than gripping drama, this could be a good entry point. 

The Verdict: 2½ stars. 

- Lincoln (M) is now showing at Bendigo Cinemas. 

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