2.5 stars (out of 4)
This is the story of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, and his quest to enact the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery in the United States of America. For the first time in maybe ages, Alice and I have gone to the cinema and seen the same movie together. Therefore, expect to see two reviews of this film.
At the risk of expressing an unpopular opinion and revealing my ignorance and/or irreverence of American history, here are my thoughts.
The movie was talky.
I would have really liked to have seen more explanation of Lincoln’s thoughts and motives. There was only one brief scene about his past and how he was appalled at seeing slaves as a young man. And incidentally, it could have very easily been shown as a flashback, but in a film that’s so resolutely verbose, it was all tell.
Much of the dialogue was intricately crafted, almost poetic, and I imagine it’s possible to get a lot out of it if you paid attention carefully. That being said, there were a few lines at the other end of the spectrum too.
For example, toward the end, when decision day was drawing near, Lincoln instructed his men to procure the remaining number of votes needed to pass the amendment. When his subordinate asked, “But how?”, Lincoln’s reply was something to the effect of, “I’m the President of the United States of America! Just make it happen!” And I don’t know… I’ve always thought of Abraham Lincoln as an admirable and forward-thinking leader, but that just sounded to me somewhat more arrogant than inspiring.
On the plus side, LINCOLN provided an excellent showcase for great actors to show off their acting chops. Certainly the acting was stellar, and that’s a must for delivering wordy lines in such a dry, stage-play-like setting. Unfortunately, I can’t say I found the movie to be terribly entertaining. It was very much like a high-budget documentary, and it may have actually benefitted from a little artistic embellishment. I’m not suggesting that Abe should have taken out his silver axe and started hunting vampires, but there must’ve been some middle ground that could have been explored.