I accidentally went to see Lincoln last week, a happy little mistake that was caused by the internet LYING to me about movie times for Les Mis, my mum being gracious and agreeing to go and see this instead, and my eternal love for Daniel Day-Lewis. (Don't worry- we saw Les Mis at the weekend, and I will never trust the internet again. Lessons learned all round.)
But Lincoln. WOAH. I'm not going to say that I just completely and utterly loved the film, or there weren't times when I wanted to sleep a tiiiiny bit (I had been to work beforehand, to be fair) but I was uncomplicatedly blown away by Daniel Day-Lewis, or maybe I should say Daniel Day-LINCOLN. Because I mean, seriously, there's acting and then there's just downright POSESSION, and well, I think DDL was definitely channeling old Abe in this movie. SERIOUSLY FREAKY (and, you know, awesome.)
I kind of envisaged Lincoln as a biopic in a traditional sense- they'd get someone to play young Abe, there'd be some heartbreak in his formative years before he finally found a good woman and she helped him become President, and THEN he'd free the slaves, but actually Lincoln turned out to be a lot more interesting than that. What it's more like is a really long episode of The West Wing set in the 19th Century (so not TONS like The West Wing), covering the time juuuust before Lincoln's second inauguration up to SPOILER (lol) his assassination, i.e. a period of about 4 months, ALSO i.e. the time he got the Thirteenth Amendment passed and freed the slaves and all. If you're an American you're probably like 'yep, learnt allllll about that at school', but we have abouuut a thousand years of Monarchy to cover, so WE DID NOT. And so I was way interested, and I was learning stuff.
Like, I learned that Lincoln's eldest son (played admirably by a chronically underused JGL with a tash) didn't massively love his dad, and totally defied him to run off and join the army. And I re-learned that it takes a lot more than just a President to get a bill passed in Congress. And that the Republicans and Democrats used to have the opposite roles to the ones they have now, and HEY how did that happen? I also importantly remembered how much I love Tommy Lee Jones as an actor, suddenly realised that the sponsor of the 13th Amendment was Gale Boetticher from Breaking Bad AND that Spielberg really is a kind of awesome director, which I guess is something I've been denying forever because his films are, you know, popular?
Anyway. Lincoln maybe isn't a perfect film, but its opening is wonderful, its middle bits are great, and the part in Congress where the Congressmen were voting on the Thirteenth Amendment made me want to jump to my feet and applaud every 'yea' vote. And also to cry juuuust a teeny bit. Other than the rousing bits in the house, my favourite parts were probably those where Abe and his wife, Mary (played by Sally Field, a casting decision which confused me because she's like, what, 65 and she's supposed to have a 10 year old kid? BUT she was actually awesome, as she tends to be) have conversations in her bedroom, she still cut up with grief over the death of their son a couple of years before, he frustrated with her and her grief... I realise I'm not making these conversations sound like the best, but it shows a side to Lincoln so different to his public persona that it's really interesting, and sometimes heartbreaking to watch.
My other other favourite bits are Lincoln's monologues. I can but assume that he actually did, in hugely important meetings, take whatever they were talking about, find an anecdote that loosely related to it and tell it, before finally, FINALLY bringing it round to the point, again. At least, I hope he did because it is AMUSING and also kind of brilliant, and really really really reminded me of The West Wing (I'm assuming that Aaron Sorkin put a little bit of Lincoln, and maybe all the Presidents he admired into President Bartlet, because he does that anecdote thing A LOT.) One of Lincoln's senior staff gets so annoyed by this that he storms off ("You're going to tell one of your stories! I can't stand to hear another one of your stories!") rather than listen to another anecdote, but... Imagine getting to listen to one of President Lincoln's stories! And because DDL has somehow morphed into Lincoln, well, you kind of get to.
So this was ridiculously long, and garbled, and if you stayed for the whole thing then THANK YOU, and have a cookie (cookies not included). Basically, the point is this: Abraham Lincoln was a pretty super dude, and even though I was expecting a biopic, I'm not sure observing him over a longer time period would do him any more justice than watching him in his last months, and finest hours. In film terns, it's kind of unfair to all other actors that Daniel Day-Lewis exists, because he is the actual amazingest and should win ALL THE OSCARS (apart from Best Supporting Actress, for that must go to Anne Hathaway). And, yeah, you should probably go and see Lincoln. ESPECIALLY if you're not American, because hello History lesson taught by DDL. If only all teachers were you...