Review: Lincoln

It’s taken me a couple of days to really formulate a somewhat articulate way to write my review of this film. Several descriptors come to mind: personal, dense, reflective, funny, human, tortured, honest, unpretentious. I could write a single (and longish) post on each one of those adjectives with regard to this movie. You just have to see it for yourself to arrive at your own set of descriptive words.

Let’s start with the most obvious. Daniel Day-Lewis looks like Lincoln. Oh my, a dead ringer if there ever was one. In fact, all the whiskery men in the cast are coiffed to the absolute nth degree; it’s fabulous. And Mary Lincoln, played tragically and exquisitely by Sally Field (at first, I thought, “She’s too old for that role; icky!” And then it was once again proved why I’m a music teacher and others are brilliant directors with a keen eye for casting), was picture-perfect in her wide, antebellum gowns and beefed-up shoulder and back fat. No stone was left unturned. OK, I’m gushing idiomatic here; on with it.

You won’t see a lot of Civil War battles. In fact, I can’t remember a single mention of Gettysburg. At the first scene, I thought, Uh-oh…soldiers dying horrific deaths on a rain-soaked field. Looks just like Saving Private Ryan. But I was wrong, wrong, wrong. The entire film centers around two main themes: 1) the passage of the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, abolishing slavery, and 2) the clandestine workings behind a failed effort by Lincoln to negotiate peace with the Confederate States. It is plain to see the inherent dichotomy here; in fact, Lincoln was told straight-up by William Seward, “You can have this peace with the Rebels or this Amendment; you cannot have both.”

It doesn’t matter if you know the outcome here; it’s how it all happened that leaves you amazed. Even more amazing was the captivating speeches — and they are long and long — by Lewis. No, fiends — this is not just another biographical look at Lincoln’s life. This is the struggle behind the struggle: a tale of a larger-than-life leader in the only time in this country’s history when Americans fought Americans. There’s also a crucial side-story about a doting (yet flawed) father, a husband desperate to hang onto what is left of his wife’s sanity, and a president who believed to the exclusion of all else that if the US didn’t abolish slavery, all were doomed.

All of that makes it a movie you must see. If I had a four-and-seven-eighths cheese graphic for it, I’d use it. It’s as close to perfection in a film as I’ve ever seen. (But if I give it five cheeses, I’d have nowhere to go, you see.)

I could write another thousand words on the film, too, but alas, I must grade papers now if I’m to be done in time for the Js’ arrival at dinnertime tonight. Yay! I love Thanksgiving break.

On the Rat-O-Meter scale of five cheeses, I give Lincoln:

That’s two awesome films I’ve seen this month. Now you get out there and do the same.

FO

6 thoughts on “Review: Lincoln

  1. Tom Hanks

    Great Review Fink!

    You very well articulated what makes this a great film.

    I think if there was a single moment in the film to me that summed up what made Lincoln the man he was it was the little parable he told Thaddeus Stevens (TLJ) about following your “true north idealism” when what stands in your way may be a swamp or a canyon. Your sight may be set north, but walking dead ahead into a swamp will get you nowhere. Lincolns life and actions are a great example of the necessity of pragmatic thinking and the power for good it can have in the hands of a truly wise man.

    This is something fewer and fewer people seem to take into consideration, especially with politics these days. We all run headlong towards our extremes of opinion, right off the cliff or right into the swamp… and what is waiting there but the despair and frustration that comes with not getting what you want? It takes a lot of dedication and patience and thought to keep your sight set on an ideal while attempting to navigate and understand the thoughts and opinions of others. In end though you will likely end up with a piece of what you were after or maybe the whole thing altogether, all the while having gained a better understanding of those who disagree with you. I have not read about any person who was able to to do this better than Lincoln.

    People talk about America being blessed by God…yeah maybe, and maybe not…but if there was ever a time when we were it was that we had Abraham Lincoln as our President at our most precipitous moment as a nation. A miracle.

    Reply
    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Well spoken, fiend, and well spoken. I, too, loved the “into the swamp” analogy. What always amazes me about Lincoln was the incredible opposition (often by idiots) he encountered in his own party. Maybe every politician goes through that to some extent, but it seems like he endured way more than his share.

      He pioneered political compromise without giving up the farm, or the safety and dignity of the country. Those who know him as a caricature in elementary school history books and pennies need to really take a closer look.

      Reply
  2. Tom Hanks

    Oh…and Happy Hanksgiving!

    You know who’s related to Abraham Lincoln? Tom Hanks…thats who. Lincolns mothers maiden name was Nancy Hanks!

    Happy Hanksgiving!!

    Reply
  3. RD

    Your review of “Lincoln”was exquistely written and right on. It hasn’t arrive in our little burg, but I found it playing in a theater 80 miles round trip from us. We made the trip, and it was well worth it. I’ve always been an admirer of Lincoln, and this depiction added to it. I hope multitudes of people will see it. I saw that it finished third in gross for the holiday week-end behind a Bond movie and something else (which I can’t remember). It’s worthy of finishing first, but then….

    Reply
    1. Rat Fink Post author

      You probably mean Twilight — didn’t it finish first? Priorities…LOL

      I’m glad you liked it! One of the best films I’ve *ever* seen.

      Reply

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