The last four months of Lincoln’s life, mostly the debate on passing the 13th amendment to the Constitution.
Doesn’t that sound boring and dry? but no, True Fan, anything but.
This movie breathes life into the mid-1800s in a way that is rarely done in film. One sees the political machinations, the choices that must be made, the bad compromises that are forced on good men, the willingness to do anything to further a good cause. The period detail was excellent, the writing was good, and the characters were amazing.
Sally Field plays the crazy-as-a-loon-but-functioning Mary Todd Lincoln, and is very good. Serious Honey Tommy Lee Jones is Thaddeus Stevens, Lincoln’s co-proponent of the amendment to free the slaves once and forever. There are many excellent actors.
And then, standing above them like Zeus on Olympus, is Daniel Day Lewis.
Oh my god, that man is probably the best actor in the WORLD at this point…at least, in my humble opinion. He is a serious honey. He is a dedicated actor. Even in a movie that is not so good he is worth seeing, and in a good movie he shines like a star.
Here? he was INCANDESCENT.
His face, voice and body language were so perfect that even though he is perfectly recognizable, I KEPT FORGETTING THAT IT WASN’T LINCOLN HIMSELF. There is no more to be said. I have rarely seen a better performance on the screen, and was amazed.
In fact, the only thing that I would quibble with about this movie is the last ten minutes…everyone knows that the civil war ended and that Lincoln was assassinated four days later. (oh, sorry, was that a spoiler? too bad.) This really had nothing to do with the rest of the movie, which would have been better ended after the scene of the Lincolns’ coach ride…the rest was just Spielberg stomping all over it with his heavy iron boots trying to push the audience’s buttons.
But ignore those few minutes, and revel in the beauty, the good writing, the intelligent moviemaking, the sheer QUALITY of this wonderful movie. Enjoy it. We do not see its like very often.