Review: Lincoln

Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Abraham Lincoln

Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Abraham Lincoln

First published in Reviews

Steven Spielberg artfully tears a page from history to immortalise the efforts of the 16th president of the United States to abolish slavery during a turbulent period of deep division within the House of Representatives.

At a time when multiculturalism is trotted out ad nauseum by politicians as modern society’s badge of honour, Lincoln is a stark reminder of the sins of the past and how far we still have to go to create a world of true equality.

Tony Kushner’s eloquent script condenses the final months of the president’s life into an elegiac portrait of a husband and father whose courage in the eye of a political storm tested his resolve and his marriage.

The ebb and flow of dialogue is exquisite, and potentially dense and baffling philosophies are distilled into digestible exposition so it’s easy to follow the cut and thrust of arguments on both sides of the political divide.

A terrific ensemble cast is led magnificently by Daniel Day-Lewis.

So often berated for grand-standing and chewing scenery, here the statuesque London-born actor is the model of restraint, internalising his statesman’s maelstrom of emotions.

His performance is no less affecting, and the physical transformation is startling, but our eyes are constantly drawn to him because of that quiet intensity in a sea of screaming, shouting brow-beaters.

Lincoln is a magnificent technical achievement, distinguished by the cinematography.

DAMON SMITH

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