DRAMA; 2hr 33min
STARRING: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Tommy Lee Jones
Scene from a marriage: Field and Day-Lewis
Abraham Lincoln (Day-Lewis), the 16th president of the United States, was raised in poverty and primarily self-taught. Yet his Republican administration made an enduring social impact. Staying an obstacle course that would fell a lesser man, Lincoln shepherded the US through the Civil War, abolished slavery with the 13th Amendment and ultimately preserved the Union. They’re quite some crowning achievements, and director Steven Spielberg’s intellectually rigorous depiction of how he pulled them off, set primarily in the decisive months before Lincoln’s 1865 assassination, is quite some impressive eyeful.
Politics is a viper pit, everyone knows that, and no less then than now. As the eye of its vituperative storms, Day-Lewis as Lincoln has a rock-steady sense of purpose while coming across as a colossus of calm, ambling with deceptive casualness through folksy anecdotes while those around him — Field as Lincoln’s sad, difficult wife, Mary, Strathairn as professionally incensed secretary of state William Seward and Jones as biting congressman Thaddeus Stevens among many — fight to be seen and heard. Actors famously live for red-blooded characters like these. But it takes a director of Spielberg’s humane understanding and innate sense of grace to truly orchestrate their groundbreaking story.