Wednesday, October 26, 2016
In 1865, as the American civil war is looming its end, American president Abraham Lincoln is preparing for an even worse battle in the Congress, as he intends to propose the Thirteenth Amendment to end slavery for the African-Americans, which is mostly met with huge scepticism, and it is not sure if enough congressmen will vote for the bill to pass. Thanks to a lot of patience, lobbying, persuasion and the support of Republican Thaddeus Stevens, the bill is passed with a margin majority of two votes. Several months later, Lincoln is assassinated in the theatre.
One of Steven Spielberg's lesser films, "Lincoln" is a too didactic, schematic presentation of the efforts to pass the 13th Amendment which ended slavery in the US, suitable more as a history lesson than as an actual film. The dry topic is simply not that cinematic, since it is obvious that important social issues alone cannot compensate all the time for lack of inspiration. The critics rightfully praised the performance by Daniel Day-Lewis with universal acclaim - even though it was tempting, he never resorted to melodramatic overacting, and instead gave a restrained, subtle and stoic performance, which thus seems all the more genuine, humble and natural - yet even his great performance of a mediocre written role has limits, obvious in some overlong stories Lincoln uses to speak in the film, which are ponderous and burdensome. The schemes and ploys used to persuade congressmen do manage to liven up a bit thanks to a few refreshing moments with humor - such as Thaddeus addressing George as a "moral carcass", more "reptile than human", yet that even he is equal in front of the law - but with so much empty walk and endless, dry speeches, was it necessary to prolong the film to a running time of 150 minutes? It is a very tough task to sit through such a static film, indeed. A formally well meant, technically perfect, yet sterile biopic - a cinematic equivalent of a PowerPoint presentation in the form of a movie.