Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is not a biographical chronicle of the life of Abraham Lincoln. It is actually a political drama about the passing of the 13th amendment and the ending of the Civil War.
Spielberg shows during the early stages of the movie how ugly war actually is and how undivided a nation can become. We see opposing factions killing one another in numbers which are so extreme that the bodies pile up on one another.
The conflicts between the Democrats and Republicans are only barely more civil than the soldiers who are killing each other in large numbers. Daniel Day-Lewis does a sterling job playing Lincoln, so much so that it is easy to forget that this is an actor playing Lincoln.
The Day-Lewis voice-over of Lincoln is perhaps the closest to what he actually sounded like which has been achieved by any actor.
Spielberg’s Lincoln is a man of noble intentions but who is not afraid to get his hands dirty in order to achieve his goals. A subplot about one of Lincoln’s sons (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who wanted to serve in the army feels like a distraction and attempts to reach the President’s wife Mary approach the thoughtful depth of the political insight. Mary is a woman who is still mourning the loss of her young son and whose mental instability was the source of the source of speculation and gossip.
The human drama of Lincoln is less convincing than the political plot. At 150 minutes however, the movie is a bit too long especially with the climax concerning the ratification of votes in a way which was as detailed as though it was happening in real time. Fortunately, Spielberg shies away from depicting the actual assassination of Lincoln.