Monday, January 21, 2013

Lincoln (2012): Mormon Movie Review

  Our next picture in our 2012 Best Picture Nominee review series in Lincoln.  On Christmas day we went to see Les Miserables.  I was amazed that while our line did have a wait that led out of the theatre, Lincoln also had a queue that led out the door; even though the movie had been in out over a month!  Today on Martin Luther King Day I am honored to share with you my review of where is all began.

   Lincoln is an emotional and political drama.  In 1865, as the American Civil War winds inexorably toward conclusion, Abraham Lincoln endeavors to achieve passage of the landmark constitutional amendment which will forever ban slavery from the United States. However, his task is a race against time, for peace may come at any time, and if it comes before the amendment is passed, the returning southern states will stop it before it can become law. Lincoln must, by almost any means possible, obtain enough votes from a recalcitrant Congress before peace arrives and it is too late. Yet the president is torn, as an early peace would save thousands of lives. As the nation confronts its conscience over the freedom of its entire population, Lincoln faces his own crisis of conscience; end slavery or end the war.

The Many Faces of Daniel Day-Lewis
   Daniel Day-Lewis is superb in his character acting.  Although I really have only seen photos of President Lincoln, his portrayal is everything I would imagine.  Thin wry voice, his gait and walk of someone uncomfortable with their exceeding height.  I did not see Daniel Day-Lewis, I saw Abraham Lincoln.  Lewis is fantastic at this transformation.  You take his biggest roles side by side and you almost cant tell they are the same person.  Heck you compare them to his actual picture and you would not think so. 

   Tommy Lee Jones is the anti-Day-Lewis.  If you want a gruff, straight shooter, is a soft spot in his heart that get revealed by the end of the movie you cast him!  If you made a montage of all his movies from the neck up, I'd challenge you to tell them all apart.  Except for maybe Batman Forever, that's what happens when he strays for what he is good at.  In Lincoln he is right in his wheelhouse.  As Lincoln tries to win votes from congressman with opinions all over the spectrum Jones plays Congressman Stevens, who not only wants abolition, but equality.  Struggle to hold to his ideals, yet temper them in the name of progress is enjoyable.   

   The rest of the cast is immense, yet full of great actors.  Household names like Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader and a mass of others you might not remember the name of, but you know you have seen them in something else.

   Part of this disguise comes from the brilliant costuming.  I am always impressed with the wardrobes of period films because you know that was probably all made for the movie.  The sets are the same way, with period lighting, decor, and furniture.  It was very easy to be immersed in the time setting.

   The unfolding of how votes are obtained was very interesting to see as some votes were not quite above board.  I did have a bit of trouble following the whole process.  There is a lot of monologue in Lincoln, and while moving, more explanation to the whole situation would have helped.  While the end does the resolve does seem to make sense, you may have to take that on faith in the beginning.    

   See Lincoln while it is still in theatres if you can.  It will be far worth it, but brush up on your history a bit so you don't get lost.  Although I haven't seen all the movies yet, I am starting to lean towards Lincoln for by best picture winner.

  Most of Lincoln consists of conversation, speeches, and debate.  Most the language is appropriate and the house debates scenes has some extremely clever insults.  There are a few more coarse phrases used at time, including one F-word. Which I always call the "PG-13 Obligatory F-Bomb."  The opening of the film is a very gritty battle that comes down to bayonets and bare handed fighting to the death. There are also two scenes that show the aftermath and human toll to such battles.

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