lincoln-title-cardPure cinema it is not, but this Lincoln is a sly one. As gripping as the back-room machinations of the 13th Amendment are (and they aren’t), Spielberg and Kushner give us a slow, stagy film: I don’t trust any movie this verbose (be it the surrender at Appomattox, or Lincoln’s ride through a corpse-strewn field, the best bits are silent). Some scenes are pat in their desire to be fresh (using, for example, the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln’s death in ways we may not expect {corners to the movie though they are}). Still, Hollywood makes too few literate epics, and this one takes a serious subject seriously. Suiting himself to the scale and tone of the film, Daniel Day-Lewis drives it.  His Lincoln barely escapes the martyrdom it would have him wear. He’s a wheeler, a dealer, a true politician; and he loves to command a room (i.e., a country). Sensing the need for presidents to act presidential, he plays Lincoln as our 16th President must have: with shrewdness, pomp, and conviction, in a race against time and the limits of one’s legacy. So, while the film is neither great nor newsy, it has purpose (to tell a history, and to win some Oscars), if not much of a pulse. I like it for the other war it shows—the one between Lincoln and his ego.


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