LincolnFeature Film | Steven Spielberg By Marlee Walters
Lincoln in profile.
Daniel Day-Lewis' Lincoln is introduced first as a voice, speaking to two black Union soldiers. When we do see him, he is seated, hunched over. He jokes with them, before they move off to battle. Here Lincoln is a quiet man with a clumping walk: he allows other politicians to do the talking and huffing and puffing. The film opens in January 1865, Lincoln has just been re-elected for a second term, but not yet inaugurated, and he plans to push the thirteenth amendment, legally abolishing slavery, through the House of Representatives. He encounters resistance from his cabinet, led by Secretary of State Seward (played by David Strathairn), the Republican party, led by Tommy Lee Jones' Thaddeus Stevens, and the Democratic party, led by Representative Wood (Lee Pace). The dramatics of the representatives and the political palm-greasing stand in contrast to Lincoln's quietness, his honesty, and his concern for the people.
Day-Lewis is famous for his Method acting, and here it does not fail him. The filmmakers, however, do not show him at his finest. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski has been hugely successful with Spielberg, but here they both fall short. The stark Lincoln profile, seen on posters, is over-used. Day-Lewis gives so much to his portrayal, and it is lost as we see too much of the side of his face, shrouded in shadows. The cinematography is generic and uninteresting overall. Spielberg may be one of, or even the most, successful director in Hollywood, but Lincoln does not improve his track record of late.
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