starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Tommy Lee Jones
screenplay by Tony Kushner
directed by Steven Spielberg
by Walter Chaw Bearing no relationship to the Gore Vidal biography with which it shares its name, Steven Spielberg's predictably uneven Lincoln features moments of real grandeur narrated to death by John Williams's inspiring™ and rousing™ score. No speech from Honest Abe (Daniel Day-Lewis) goes without ample and gaudy decoration, making me wonder which one Spielberg doesn't trust to deliver the goods: Day-Lewis, or Lincoln. More to the point, what Spielberg probably doesn't trust is the viewer's intelligence and humanity, meaning the real question is whether he thinks the kind of people who would go to a movie about Abraham Lincoln are morons. Either way, it's not the sort of behaviour that should be rewarded or go unremarked-upon. Consider that the absolute best, most powerful moment of the film arrives within the first five minutes as Lincoln sits in a bivouac, taking questions from foot soldiers--and consider that this instance of naturalism is neatly destroyed by Spielberg's instinct towards swatting flies with Buicks. What could have been an affecting, quiet bit with our most revered national figure ends with a clumsily proselytized mission statement as a black soldier recites the end of the Gettysburg Address--a not-subtle reminder that the mandate of Lincoln's second term carried with it the responsibility to push the 13th amendment ending slavery through a divided Congress.