Friday, November 9, 2012

Kenneth Turan Reviews 'Lincoln'

At the Los Angeles Times, "Review: Steven Spielberg's 'Lincoln' a towering achievement":

Hollywood's most successful director turns on a dime and delivers his most restrained, interior film. A celebrated playwright shines an illuminating light on no more than a sliver of a great man's life. A brilliant actor surpasses even himself and makes us see a celebrated figure in ways we hadn't anticipated. This is the power and the surprise of "Lincoln."

Directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Tony Kushner and starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president of the United States, "Lincoln" unfolds during the final four months of the chief executive's life as he focuses his energies on a dramatic struggle that has not previously loomed large in political mythology: his determination to get the House of Representatives to pass the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery.

This narrow focus has paradoxically enabled us to see Lincoln whole in a way a more broad-ranging film might have been unable to match. It has also made for a movie whose pleasures are subtle ones, that knows how to reveal the considerable drama inherent in the overarching battle of big ideas over the amendment as well as the small-bore skirmishes of political strategy and the nitty-gritty scramble for congressional votes.
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