Genre: Biography, History
Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenwriter: Tony Kushner
based in part on the book “TEAM OF RIVALS: THE POLITICAL GENIUS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN” by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Music: John Williams
Cinematography: Janusz Kaminski
Tommy Lee Jones
Tim Blake Nelson
Jackie Earle Haley
S. Epatha Merkerson
Last year USA-born Meryl Streep won her third Oscar for the portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in THE IRON LADY (2011, 7/10), this year the academy will (seemingly) reciprocate a third Oscar to Brit Daniel Day-Lewis in his rendition of Abraham Lincoln. It’s a fair trade, both represent the highest echelon of acting supremacy, a biographical piece of an iconic historical figure is the safest touchstone.
But LINCOLN is directed by Steven Spielberg, an industrial tycoon who has nothing to lose and at the same time nothing could surpass his previous accomplishments. Last year WAR HORSE (2011) and THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (2011) didn’t exactly restore his capability as a superb director, but leading this year with 12 Oscar nominations, no one can argue it is the best chance for Mr. Spielberg and his team to attest their credentials and may be exulted with the glory.
I watched this film in a local cinema, being an non-American and a politics apathetic, the film doesn’t grow on me as it should, it has its undeniable merits (an intimidatingly detailed script from Tony Kushner and a first-rate collective work from all the thespians, to name a few) and if its ultimate goal is to reach a more geographically diverse demography, call me pessimist, the outlook seems bleak.
Since the plot is a no-brainer, this is a battlefield for brilliant thespians, like a Shakespeare play, everyone is howling and bellowing, inveighing and swearing, with a scattering of bons mots and repartee. But how much viewers can feel in Lincoln’s bones while watching this film? History is always written by the winners, since Lincoln is a valiant winner, whose conscientious endeavor to abolish the slavery may seem to be more like a political decision other than out of a visceral compassion as a human being, his stratagem can out-wit all those brains around him, the film, is well-positioned as a paean to American’s beloved leader, Mr. Spielberg has been never so unassuming since his extraordinary career path.
The almighty Daniel Day-Lewis will be an insuperable crest for any actor in the drama range, whose congenital talent and meticulous preparation for his roles can spontaneously set up a bona fide paragon in actor’s kingdom. His Lincoln is a mystery, a distanced role-model of the generations, a “perfect man”in almost every aspect, but his struggle and ordeal still penetrates from within. Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones, luckier than other supporting roles, clinch their showboating emotion burst and excavate their Oscar-worthy depths in their characters, two textbook supporting nominations are well-deserved.
The film is a high-caliber biographical flagship, but film should serve us a bit more than being a (politically) fly-on-the-wall machine to recount what had happened (who can tell what is the truth anyway), and highlight some uplifting moral triumphs, if it can spike its main course with some unexpected cinematic wizardry, then it will be a huge bonus. Nevertheless, supposedly no one will grudge too much if it wins big (e.g. BEST FILM & BEST DIRECTOR apart from DDL’s third naked Golden stature) in the upcoming Oscar battle, afterwards, Oscar is profoundly USA-tagged, it has its proverbial boundaries, but who doesn’t?