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 figure. In the end playwright Tony Kushner has written an elegant, eloquent screenplay that focuses on the final four months of Lincoln's life and the political fight to secure the constitutional abolition of slavery
It may sound the stuff of a dry history lesson but the attraction of Lincoln lies in the way it brushes off the dusty hand of the past and brings the fight for the soul of the nation so vividly to life. Daniel Day-Lewis does a remarkable job of making Lincoln flesh and blood. The bitter arguments with his wife Mary (Sally Field), aching concern for son Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and jousting with the qualms of Secretary of State William Seward (David Strathairn) all contribute to a portrait of Lincoln as both a shrewd political force and complex human being.
Set mostly in the treacly darkness of candlelight rooms and debating chambers, the film largely eschews the sentimentality that is considered a Spielberg trademark. The result is a film as absorbing and unassuming as the central character.
General release from Fri 25 Jan.