Movie Review: Lincoln

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Long, laborious… yet fascinating. 

Irish-born and British actor Daniel Day-Lewis disappears and becomes a real, living, breathing Lincoln.  He truly captures the most beloved and storied American political figure, down  to the hunched posture, slight limp of gait, war-weary eyes, high-pitched voice, sunken cheeks and chin-strap beard. 

A skilled statesman and good man, Lincoln leads the country, divided by years of civil war and dark period of slavery.  He does what’s necessary for the greater good – negotiating, persuading, cajoling, compromising, convincing, biding time, trading favors, bribing. 

It’s one thing to read books, it’s another to see history unfold onscreen.  It’s almost unfathomable that there was a time in the history of this great nation where people believed that not all was created equal, that equality was merely in the eyes of the law, and progression, such as the rights to vote for certain segments of the population and women’s rights, was feared and opposed. 

Day-Lewis is supported by heavy-hitters; David Strathrairn, James Spader, Tommy Lee Jones, Jackie Earle Haley, Hal Holbrook, among others.  His most powerful, emotional scenes, however, appear in individual moments with his patriotic son, Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, “The Dark Knight Rises“) and unstable wife, Mary (Sally Field, “The Amazing Spider Man“), over Robert’s wish to join the army and the loss of their first-born son in the war. 

Authentic look into life in the late 18th century is accurately depicted through cinematography, set design, lighting, costume and makeup.  From dimly-lit and smoke-filled rooms, horse-drawn carriages and dirt-covered roads, to the stovepipe hats, boots, gloves and hoop skirts.  Two striking scenes come to mind.  One when Lincoln quietly stands by the window with his younger son, knowing that the 13th Amendment has been passed, in contrast with the cacophony on the voting floor.  And when a shell-shocked Robert Lincoln sees what war really does to soldiers; the ghastly find actually compels him even more to enlist.

Weighed by heavy dialogue, “Lincoln” may not be easy to digest, but with sustained attention, you’ll get the essence.  Director Steven Spielberg picks the right moments to tell.  “Lincoln” is not a biography, but a window into the most historic time in the life of  the 16th President of the United States. 

“Lincoln” is a revealing window of the backroom political deals that go into the process of the abolition of slavery and uniting of the nation, as well as Lincoln’s own personal relationships with his family.  When it boils down to it, this is Day-Lewis’ picture; he’s perfection.  Like Colin Firth before him in 2010’s historical drama “The King’s Speech,” it wouldn’t be a surprise if he nabs an acting nod for his presidential performance comes awards time.

 Copyright (c) 2012. Nathalia Aryani.

 Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, lifestyle/travel writer and film columnist. She can be reached at Nathalia owns a movies blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter:

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].

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