With its unmistakably talented cast, director and producer, “Lincoln” commands exceptionally high expectations.
While it does not quite resonate as profoundly as Steven Spielberg’s other biopic, “Schindler’s List,” strong performances by the always-impressive Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and the surprisingly humorous Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens make the film an enjoyable movie-going experience.
The large majority of the film focuses on Lincoln’s campaign to abolish slavery by passing the 13th Amendment.
Laden with racist and sexist remarks that would make even the most politically incorrect audience members cringe, the film – albeit extensive – succeeds in showing the triumph of emancipation without becoming a sugar-coated fairytale.
Day-Lewis’ depiction of Lincoln is understated, while Jones’ performance is unquestionably overstated.
Both are full of remarks so sharp and poignant they are clearly the work of a master screenwriter, despite occasionally becoming overt Hollywood cliche soundbites.
Other members of the ensemble cast shine through as well. James Spader perfectly embodies the bravado of a less-than-legitimate political lobbyist, all while representing the good-natured corruption prevalent throughout the film.
Sally Field electrifies as Mary Todd Lincoln, showing that her acting chops have not declined over her long, illustrious career.
As a whole, the film feels as though it is missing something.
Each key character brings a certain aura to the screen, with some more mesmerizing than others.
The script lacks evenness, unable to determine whether it is historical fiction riddled with humorous asides and made-for-Hollywood drama, or a true, unfaltering representation of an important time in our nation’s history, including the president who made it so.
Perhaps, however, this distinction need not be so explicitly defined.
“Lincoln” may not sweep the Oscars, but it undeniably paints a memorable portrait of an American hero. And more importantly, it does so without a single vampire.