Impeccable acting all around is the only reason to see this history lesson brought to life by director Steven Spielberg. Daniel Day-Lewis disappears into the role of Abraham Lincoln. He embodies the role as he does in all of his movies. He's a wonderful actor but in this instance, his Lincoln resembles little more than the anamatronic Lincoln I remember seeing at Disneyland's Hall of Presidents. Actors who do bring the movie to life include a scene stealing Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, David Strathairn as William Seward and an excellent Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. There is also a large supporting cast of well known actors that are directed with precision by Mr. Spielberg.
The film concentrates on the last few months of Lincoln's life, trying to end the Civil War and pass the 13th amendment. Beyond the opening battle, the rest of the film is a war of words between the Republicans and Democrats arguing in the House of Representatives over the amendment to end slavery. Tony Kushner's script might as well have been made a TV movie on the History channel if not for Mr. Spielberg's signature flourishes. Sweeping panoramic views, John Williams overly dramatic score, Janusz Kaminski's great cinematography, and a very well directed cast. The film may well be a perfect recreation of history but somehow misses the grit and energy of past work's like "Saving Private Ryan". I'm sure history buffs will still flock to the box office and not be disappointed.
Mr. Spielberg is a master at manipulating his audience and of course you will leave the theater moved and feeling patriotic. You've just seen one of our most beloved president's finest hour, but I felt the same way visiting the marble statue of the man in Washington D.C. In striving for perfection, Mr. Spielberg has achieved excellence but it's a hollow victory.