The Film Fatales, a couple of New York yanks, court President Lincoln.
2012. 150 mins. Starring Daniel Day Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones and David Strathairn. Screenplay by Tony Kushner. Directed by Steven Spielberg.
As the Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves. [imdb]
Nicole: Upon seeing the first stills from the set of this movie, I had a feeling it would be a masterpiece. Daniel Day Lewis in full Lincoln costume – uncanny resemblance. Those stills and the previews that followed proved my hunch right. Spielberg honored Lincoln, arguably our greatest president, with a delicate respect and truthfulness. By relying on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s weighty tome “Team of Rivals,” Spielberg was certain to make film history. Source material aside, this film might not have been as masterfully crafted if not for Spielberg’s careful and dedicated direction.
elizabeth: I also knew upon walking into the theatre that this would be a movie for the ages. We all know how it ends, so I appreciated the very intimate portrayal into the life of this gentle man, his family and the country he presided over. Spielberg’s genius in taking this book to film made me grieve for the potential that ended at the Ford Theatre on April 15, 1865. I walked out wanting to read Kearns Goodwin’s book and Santa if you are listening…
Nicole: As for the cast – it’s hard to imagine better. I think Daniel Day Lewis was born to play this role. At times, he disappeared into Lincoln and I was certain I was watching Lincoln himself. Day Lewis’ portrayal afforded us a look at Lincoln’s sense of humor, innate gift for telling stories, and affectionate character. Day Lewis turned Lincoln from a political icon into a human being. If he doesn’t win the Oscar, he’ll have truly been robbed.
Sally Fields, who fought hard for this role despite the 10-year age difference between her and Day Lewis, was also remarkable. The tired, old POV of Mary Todd Lincoln as a hysterical, irrational woman is now cast aside. Instead, we’re given what is probably a more accurate picture of Mrs. Lincoln: A woman struck with grief over the untimely death of her middle son. A woman who was not afraid to mourn in a time period when prolonged grief was often misconstrued for madness. Fields delved deeper into Mrs. Lincoln’s personality, producing a feisty, outspoken and fiercely devoted mother and wife.
elizabeth: I have to agree with you on Day Lewis and Field. Daniel Day Lewis is the finest and most gifted actor we have around and while I would like to see him up on the screen more often, I am glad that he waits for a role that propels him to shed his own skin and become the character. Trust me when I say this, you are not watching Daniel up on that screen. Somehow and I don’t know how he does it, but he is channeling Lincoln in this movie. He is Lincoln. And I admired how Day Lewis captured Lincoln’s gift of storytelling as well as his subtle and amusing sense of the absurd. I won’t add another word about Sally Fields’ Mary Lincoln, It annoys me to say this, but your comments on Field’s compelling and heartbreaking performance are spot on.
Nicole: Other standouts – Tommy Lee Jones and James Spader. I won’t discuss their roles too much, because the former’s payoff is truly rewarding and the latter’s humorous turns are a total treat. If I had anything at all negative to say, it would be only that the historical figures portrayed are many and we might have benefitted from better identification and a touch more back story. But, that’s nothing cracking open a book won’t cure. Overall, I think this movie will stand at the apex of biopics. Any future filmmakers and actors who attempt to tackle the story and roles in the future will have a very difficult time surpassing this incredible feat.
elizabeth: Another stand out performance is the cinematography. It holds all the characters and storylines together. The reduction of color casts such a somber mood over the film and rightfully so. The country was in the middle of a bloody war between the states and a highly contested vote to emancipate the slaves was coming up. Mr. Lincoln, we could use you right about now. This is what going to the movies should always be about. Well, this and the upcoming Hangover 3.
The Film Fatales give Lincoln