Lincoln by Steven Spielberg


We can not consecrate

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is boring.  There I said it.  I’m not sorry.  It’s the truth.  As I see it, the film only has two major selling points.

The first one is the superb, movie stealing performance turned in by Tommy Lee Jones in the role of the Republican radical/slavery hating Thaddeus Stevens.  Hand the man a Best Supporting Actor statue please.  He more than earned it.

The second one is, if you’re a fan of such things, the historical accuracy.  Lincoln is primarily a film about President Abraham Lincoln’s time spent in January of 1865 securing the votes necessary to get the 13th amendment, the one abolishing slavery, passed through the House of Representatives and added to the US Constitution as law.  However, as current Democratic US Representative Joe Courtney (CT) is quick to point out, the movie ain’t even all that accurate.  When the primary crux of your film is all about abolishing slavery, you might want to spend some time getting the details behind it right.  You know, the little things, like which states voted for or against the proposed amendment.  I’m not a historian, but even I know you shouldn’t just guess and hope that no one notices when it comes to these things.

Ahem.  Like I said, the film only has one major selling point.


Why not just cast Ben Stiller and be done with it?

I know what you’re thinking.  Just stop that right now okay?  Daniel Day-Lewis is a fine actor, yes, you’ll get no argument from me there.  As Abraham Lincoln though, he comes off looking like a taller, poorer, dressed up 1800’s version of Ben Stiller.  He spends half his time telling these random, crazy anecdotes about shit no one around him cares about and the other half dealing with his wife (Sally Field) who’s supposed to be nuttier than he is, but comes off rather sane by way of comparison.  Lewis turns in a rather okay performance, but certainly not an award worthy one.

Then there’s the rather strange mishmash of a supporting cast which features the Pie Maker from ABC’s Pushing Daises, (Lee Pace) as Democratic Congressman Fernando Wood and psycho fan Mel’s husband (David Constable) from HBO’s Flight of the Conchords as Republican Congressman James Ashley.  They both look sorely out of place, but thankfully they are overshadowed by two fine performances.

First, Joseph Gordon -Levitt as Lincoln’s eldest son Robert.  Sadly though, he’s given little to work with in the way of a story line other than the typical strain inherent in any father-son relationship.  They each want different things when it comes to the boy’s future.  Surprise!  Equally as impressive, and given more to work with, is James Spader in the role of Republican Party operative William Bilbo.  He’s on a mission to procure the votes required to pass the amendment from the pool of opposing Democrats at any cost.

All things considered, Lincoln isn’t necessarily a bad film, but given the hype surrounding it and the praise heaped upon it by critics and moviegoers alike, I was expecting much, much more from this one.   It moves at a snail’s pace for most of its 150 minute run time and then Lincoln goes and dies at the end.

Oops.  Here’s hoping that I didn’t just spoil anything for you.

Lincoln ★★½☆☆
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Nominated For:
Best Picture (Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers)
Actor in a Leading Role (Daniel Day-Lewis)
Actor in a Supporting Role (Tommy Lee Jones)
Actress in a Supporting Role (Sally Field)
Cinematography (Janusz Kaminski)
Costume Design (Joanna Johnston)
Directing (Steven Spielberg)
Film Editing (Michael Kahn)
Music-Original Score (John Williams)
Production Design (Rick Carter (Production Design); Jim Erickson (Set Decoration))
Sound Mixing (Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins)
Writing-Adapted Screenplay (Written by Tony Kushner)

United States
150 Minutes


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About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.

  • Mike

    I have to disagree with you on this one. I saw Lincoln at 8:00 on New Year’s Eve – a situation where I expected to be a little antsy about getting on to the festivities to follow. But it kept me riveted throughout. Didn’t even check the time, something I’m usually guilty of during lengthy films.

    I’m sure it helped that it was gorgeous on the big screen.

    And yes, the missus was bat-shit crazy, and the prez was more than a little eccentric.

  • murni rahayu

    I thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt was the one who look sorely out of place, and he looked struggling to fit in, his delivery was awkward. Thank god he’s given only small part.

  • Typographical Era

    Wow! I didn’t even spot that greaseball! Good catch!