Okay. So Lincoln, Steven Spielberg’s bloated $50-million history lesson about Abraham Lincoln’s final days in office as he attempted, by hook or crook, to abolish slavery, is noble, civic-minded, exhaustingly researched, immaculately detailed, crowded with a parade of cameos by good actors who look like Smith Brothers cough drop models, and noteworthy for another critic-proof performance by Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role. It is all of those things. But Lincoln is also a colossal bore. It is so pedantic, slow-moving, sanitized and sentimental that I kept pinching myself to stay awake—which, like the film itself, didn’t always work.
The Civil War is in its fourth year. Lincoln has already signed his famous Emancipation Proclamation, a year before his re-election to a second term. Now he wants an anti-slavery amendment to guarantee that the slaves he freed will stay that way forever, protected by law. He needs votes from a hostile, divided Congress to pass it. That means getting the support of Democrats—rabid right-wing conservatives in those days—as well as liberal, left-wing Republicans. (How times have changed!) And that’s what Lincoln is about. Read More