Lincoln (PG-13) - Runtime: 150 minutes
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Tony Kushner
I only had one reason that I wanted to watch this movie: it was nominated for best picture. Every year I try to watch all the best picture nominees because I want to know why these specific movies got chosen. Plus I can actually make valid complaints about the ones chosen without feeling guilty that I didn't watch a movie. With that in mind, I am not looking forward to watching Les Miserables. But back to the movie at hand. I wasn't expecting much from Lincoln. I was worried that I'd be bored to tears and gag over the pretentiousness of the movie. Well, Lincoln did nothing to quell those fears.
The story begins with an intense battle which I got super excited! Sweet, this movie is not going to be afraid to get dirty! Then is cuts to a couple of soldiers meeting Lincoln at base camp where they are so excited! They're meeting a real-life celebrity and begin to recite the Gettysburg address. They couldn't remember all of it and a black soldier starts to finish the quote. It's extremely pretentious - it's in the movie just to show you what Lincoln does to inspire people, but it comes off as manipulative. The film spends the next two-plus hours traipsing about trying to get Congress to pass the 13th amendment abolishing slavery. And it is BORING. I wouldn't have minded this movie if there was a compelling narrative, but the way the movie plays out is tedious and a lot of scenes seem unnecessary. For example - there were way too many "Lincoln tells a story" scenes. This happened about every fifteen-twenty minutes in the movie where Lincoln will provide an anecdotal story as an answer to some character's question or problem. It was okay the first time, but it became annoying throughout. In fact, the movie acknowledges this because one character shouts "I can't stand one more story!" and stomps out of the room. So even the filmmakers knew how awful the screenplay was!
And the acting! Oh the acting! Everyone has been raving about the acting in the movie, but aside from Daniel Day-Lewis, I really don't understand all the panty-dropping for the acting in this movie. There were way too many recognizable faces - and I mean that in a bad way. It felt like Tommy Lee Jones was playing Tommy Lee Jones (now with wig!). And Sally Field seemed like Sally Field just in a corset. In this case, the movie felt more like a stage play than anything else. There was much too embellishing and exaggerated acting from most of the cast.
I don't understand the love for this movie. It was way, way too long (seriously, the movie could have used some extensive cuts) and the acting was just okay, not phenomenal. There were a few side stories like Lincoln's son Robert wanting to serve in the army which could have been expanded because it felt short-handed. And there's a really odd reveal near the end of the movie. Tommy Lee, the man who was essential to the amendment's passage, comes home after the victory and there's a black woman taking his coat and hat. He sinks into bed and the camera pans out and *record scratch* the black woman is his wife! (or living partner!), like it's some sort of revelation. Here's the man who is probably more liberal than Hillary Clinton and we're supposed to be shocked that he has a black wife???? Maybe that scene was to show something else but the way it was shot seemed to suggest otherwise.
Lincoln will more than likely end up as an answer to a really hard trivia question 10 years from now because this film is largely forgettable. But I'm in the minority on this one and it will probably win at least 5 or 6 Oscars this year. Harrumph.
Rating: Avoid Like the Plague!