“This isn’t usual. This is history.” This is arguably the most important moment in American History making this a completely necessary film. Not only was it a film the needed to be made, it was a fantastic film all around. Steven Spielberg tells an incredible interpretation of this powerful moment in our time and this is mostly in part to a flawless performance from the greatest actor living today as the titular, President Abraham Lincoln.
Stylistically, Spielberg doesn’t offer anything new or tricky, which works perfectly for the the film he was trying to make. What he does offer is simply a very straightforward and linear retelling of a historical event that deserved to be expressed in this, the greatest art form. Spielberg just does his job, does it well and allows his actors to do their job. You just have to expect greatness from Daniel Day-Lewis and yes it is his show and he is perfect in the role, but it’s also complete perdenent that I mention the other performances as well.
Sally Field does wonders as Lincoln’s neurotic wife, a performance that I feel must’ve been trying. John Hawkes, Tim Blake Nelson and James Spader play very well off of each other. Other great actors make up a fantastic supporting cast; Hal Holbrook, Jared Harris, Jackie Earle Haley, David Straihairn and even Joseph Gordon-Levitt is along for the carriage ride. Tommy Lee Jones is an actor who deserves undying praise for his vivid portrayal of Thaddeus Stevens.
Making a film is a collaborative project and in this case there were a lot of talented people collaborating, but it’s the performance of the Abraham Lincoln that makes this film truly extraordinary. Abraham Lincoln may be the most iconic historical figure ever and for him to justly be portrayed in a film would take an incredible performance. Daniel Day-Lewis offers that and more with a grand portrayal filled with subtleties and confident choices. He takes a great man, one we could only imagine actually being in the presence, and makes him utterly human.
Lincoln is just a great film through and through. It’s made by a man who still knows how to make a great film and it serves as a reminder and proof that Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest living actor. This is a film where the drama and climaxes come from decisions and conversations. It’s a tasteful and mature film meant to bring us to a time and place and to tell the tale of one of the most important points in American history. It was a film that needed to be made and it was incredible.