Monday’s Movie Review: Lincoln

Lincoln Movie Review by M. Vargas

With an opening scene that made me wish I had paid more attention to memorizing the four scores speech in elementary school, Lincoln (2012) is Steven Spielberg’s latest masterpiece. The 65 million film features an all-star cast with Academy Award winners Daniel Day Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, and Sally Field who have a combined 5 Oscars between them. What can possibly go wrong?

The actors weave their craft to depict the little known back-story of the passing of the 13th amendment. An act described by Tommy Lee Jones’ character as “the most liberating constitutional amendment in history, passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America.” The war with the Confederacy was drawing to a close and many in the north saw it as an unnecessary obstacle for peace with the south. Abraham Lincoln, realizing that the window of opportunity is closing, does all he possibly can to get it passed, even being dishonest.

I thoroughly enjoyed Daniel Day Lewis’ performance. But when I saw the trailer, I honestly was slightly disillusioned. What I saw in the trailers was an Abraham Lincoln that was far from my elementary school perception of the “Great Emancipator.” What I saw in the film was a character that immediately stuck out. He plays a character that drew me in closer so I could catch every single second of dialogue. A man you saw wearing slippers in the White House, so intriguingly ordinary. Soft spoken, only raising his voice once, with a tranquil cadence, he always had insightful dialog, with preamble story. Lewis will win the Oscar for this role.

Tommy Lee Jones plays a role he’s very well accustomed to. Cranky, sarcastic, witty and flamboyant, who just happens to be exactly what the Representative from Pennsylvania, Thaddeus Stevens was like. Call it a role tailored for Jones, but the political drama that occurred 235 years ago in the House of Representatives was entertaining. Sally Field helped me realize how crazy Mary Todd Lincoln was. The relationship between the two characters baffled me at first, but in the end it all becomes clear. Both will surely end up with Oscar nominations.

This film is as close to perfection as technically possible. Every scene is well thought out. I absolutely love the use of the glare and light refractions in scenes, especially when used in conjunction with dialog. Without assuming its computer generated, you can tell great thought was put into every scene. There is not one boring shot. What would be mundane dialog scenes are bolstered with hardly noticeable moving dolly shots. The camera is hardly still, but it’s done tastefully, not the shaky camera effect seen in many action films. Spielberg does not want to overwhelm you with cinema, he wants you to be able to take it all in.

Three Oscar winning performers with Oscar worthy performances, a nod for best picture, these are possibly the best-spent 65 million dollars to be spent on a film this year. Absolutely nothing went wrong in this film. You get what you expect from a name like Spielberg at the helm. The performances rendered by the actors were superb and the artistic direction put this film right into the category of instant classic. I can’t wait for this to come out on Blu-Ray.

Instant Classic 5 out of 5

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