Who knew the sixteenth president of the United States of America was such a funny guy? Historians like Doris Kearns Goodwin did, apparently, who passed her knowledge on to director Steven Spielberg, writer Tony Kushner, and star Daniel Day-Lewis for his perfect portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in the succinctly titled, “Lincoln.”
In a film that tells the incredibly important story of how this president worked to pass the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution simultaneously with ending the Civil War, the most memorable moments have nothing to do with either. Instead “Lincoln” depicts far more than the “four score and seven years ago” president children are taught to look up to in elementary school, showing his propensity for humor and attempts to balance his political role with his family life.
This version of Lincoln embodies the same spirit as the idealized one history has created, but like every other U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln was indeed also human, and Day-Lewis performs that down-to-Earth role in an Oscar-worthy performance. Stemming from Lincoln’s historically accurate higher pitched voice and burdened stride, Day-Lewis never falters in making audiences believe they are witnessing history in the making, while at the same time understanding what it took for one man to be in charge of not only leading his own life, but being responsible for thousands of others, and bettering generations to come.
But “Lincoln” is not only about the man himself, as Day-Lewis is surrounded by a highly-entertaining cast including Tommy Lee Jones and James Spader, whose hysterical, yet important roles stop just short of over-the-top, bringing even more light to a dreadfully serious subject.
Spielberg beautifully balances comedy and drama in one of history’s most important topics while his go-to team of Janusz Kaminski behind the camera and John Williams behind the conductor’s baton together create yet another spot-on feeling to allow the actors’ performances to feel real.
On this Thanksgiving Day, a holiday declared by Lincoln himself, it is fitting to glorify not only one of the United States’ finest presidents, one that our current commander-in-chief highly looks up to, but also the new film that makes anyone appreciate his achievements even more.