Friday, November 16, 2012
In the last two years we've seen movies about the alleged secret side of Lincoln as a vampire hunter, the trial of one of the possible conspirators in Lincoln's assassination, and 'The Lincoln Lawyer' (which actually had absolutely nothing to do with Abraham Lincoln at all, but rather a Lincoln Town Car.) So it's about time we saw a film about the man himself. And who better to portray the most American of all Americans than a Brit, right? Well, if that Brit is Daniel Day-Lewis then it totally makes sense because that guy is one of the greatest actors in the history of actors and a total chameleon. As you can see from the poster, he totally looks the part. It's downright frightening how he transforms into his roles in classic films like 'In the Name of the Father', 'The Last of the Mohicans', 'Gangs of New York' and 'There Will Be Blood'. And with long breaks in between each film, it's truly an event when a Daniel Day-Lewis film comes out. And, as expected, he completely sinks into the role, portraying our most famous President as a soft spoken, slow moving, fatherly sage-like figure. You almost feel the need to lean forward to make sure to catch each and every whispered word of his long monologues, because you know each and every word is of great importance. And that's the genius of Daniel Day-Lewis.
And yet, as much as I looked forward to this film, directed by Steven Spielberg, in some ways it's slightly disappointing. It's a long and slow paced film, and never quite reaches its potential by offering those kinds of moments we relish from past Day-Lewis performances. And the large supporting cast is impressive, but few of them have shining moments either, with the exception of Tommy Lee Jones who shows more life here than he has in his last several on screen appearances. FYI, this is not a biopic, as it focuses only on one year of Lincoln's Presidency. Oh, and don't expect any large scale civil war battles either. This is not that movie. This one's for history buffs and Day-Lewis devotees. Casual movie goers will likely fall asleep long before slavery is abolished. (Oops, should I have said spoiler alert?) Actually, this film might have worked better as a two part mini-series on HBO. Or perhaps as an attraction at the Hall of Presidents in Walt Disney World? But, despite its imperfections, I'll still take happily this version over 'Vampire Hunter' any day.