I’ve heard people call movies like Inception or Looper “smart movies” — I assume because those films count on the audience to puzzle something out. Well, Lincoln is truly a smart movie. It plunges us right into the rhythms and inflections of an earlier day. It makes us think about the complex motivations that influenced the characters — political, ethical, and personal motives — as they made a decision that changed the world they lived in.
When I went into the theater I thought I was going to see a biography. Instead, Lincoln focused on the details of the passage of the 13th amendment (the one that forbids slavery and involuntary servitude) and the end of the Civil War.
Daniel Day-Lewis did an incredible job, and Tommy Lee Jones stood out too in the role of Thaddeus Stevens. The acting was wonderful, in every role. I particularly enjoyed seeing the in-your-face style of debate in Congress back in that time, and how it was portrayed in this film.
As for the ending — I think we all know it — it felt oddly anticlimactic. The story was about the struggle to pass the amendment; to me, that victory was the end of the story.
I enjoyed this — in fact, way more than I expected to. Now, I think I’ll go out and read the book this was (in part) based on — Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.