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  • 4 stars
  • 2012
  • US
  • 150 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Steven Spielberg
  • Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn
  • UK release: 25 January 2013

Spielberg's epic focuses on the final four months of the titular President's life and the political fight to secure the constitutional abolition of slavery. The film largely eschews the sentimentality that is considered a Spielberg trademark, resulting in a film as absorbing and unassuming as the central character.

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18 Jan 20134 stars

Absorbing and unassuming film eschews trademark Spielberg sentimentality

Lincoln has been a lengthy labour of love for Steven Spielberg. Screenwriters and a lead actor have come and gone over more than a decade spent striving to tunnel out a cohesive drama from within the life of such a monumental and seemingly familiar…

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1. Perthshire FilmFanatic25 Feb 2013, 2:30am3 stars Lincoln Report

Foregoing the conventional “greatest hits” biopic route in favour of focusing on the final few months of Abraham Lincoln’s (Daniel Day-Lewis) life and Presidency, Spielberg’s film tells the story of Lincoln’s quest to pass the 13th Amendment that will abolish slavery as the bloody Civil War draws to a close. This is President Lincoln at his most world-weary and yet most powerful. Lincoln must use every political favour and tactic he and his team can muster to get the amendment passed. The film boasts an amazing cast, with Jones, Strathairn, Spader, Pace, and Stuhlbarg the standouts. Field and Gordon-Levitt are solid as Mary Todd and Robert Todd Lincoln, respectively, but I found that they lacked chemistry with Day-Lewis. In many ways, Lincoln is a companion piece to Spielberg’s earlier slavery drama Amistad, but unlike that film this movie has both a pulse and a better script. Still, the main issue for me here is that Lincoln feels too much like a grand made-for-TV movie, especially in its homestretch.

Overall, this film succeeds most as a showcase for all the amazing acting talent involved, particularly the incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis, who is a shoe-in for well-deserved Oscar glory. However, lovers of Spielberg’s hallmark big-budget, big-heart, action-saturated films should beware that this is modestly staged and lacks the emotion pull of an E.T. or a War Horse.

All in all, it's a good cinematic history lesson, bolstered by some wonderful acting. But other than that I found it dull and rather boring. I'm awarding this two stars for acting alone. Be warned.

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Average rating 3/5 from 1 review of Lincoln.

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