FILM FANS: Day-Lewis steals the show in 'Lincoln'

EDITOR'S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the movie of the week: "Lincoln." Want to be a film fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

3 stars out of 4

Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" is a historical drama which focuses on the second term of Abraham Lincoln's presidency and his efforts to abolish slavery and end the Civil War.

Daniel Day-Lewis is compelling as President Lincoln, turning in a performance that is as strong as it is subtle. Sally Field's portrayal of the First Lady is full of passion and fire. Tommy Lee Jones, Hal Holbrook and James Spader have featured roles, hiding under layers of rumpled suits, wigs and mustaches.

The pacing of "Lincoln" is rather slow and labored. The battle scenes are brief and bloody, but most of the action takes place in gloomy, hazily lit rooms, awash in blacks, grays and browns -- there is rarely a scene with full light. Most enjoyable are the moments between Day-Lewis and Field as they spar about the future of their sons.

For history buffs and students studying the Civil War, "Lincoln" is a must-see. For the average movie-goer, it is probably a little too long and on the heady side for afternoon entertainment. There's no denying, however, that "Lincoln" tells a story that echoes even today as our country once again moves forward through challenging times.

-- Paul Tate, Sugar Hill

2 stars out of 4

The movie tries hard but misses the mark on many levels, leaving you flat, despite all the hype and promise. Its first mistake is Steven Spielberg trips over the cardinal sin and falls in love with his work, running the flick for two and half hours, which is at least an hour too long. Then there is the miscast of Sally Fields as Mary which doesn't add the desperately needed dimension. There is a ton of dull, drawn out scenes that add virtually nothing.

The basic premise is this is a historical account of Lincoln's last few months before his assassination. And the job Daniel Day-Lewis does as Lincoln is quite astonishing which is, in fact, the only real merit of the movie. His presence is the only strand that keeps the wheels on. So what we have, in terms of a classic movie, is a real hoax. Notwithstanding all this, the exceptional historical importance this movie depicts and Day-Lewis's spectacular performance raises this film to a higher rating than warranted.

-- Rick Wright, Auburn

3 and 1/2 stars

Wonderfully told, as only Steven Spielberg can do, this is the story of the final few months of Abraham Lincoln's life just after being elected to his second term as president. His primary goal is to ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and abolish slavery, end the Civil War, leave a legacy of preserving the principals of the founding fathers and abolish the barbaric practice of one human being owning another.

Daniel Day-Lewis, as Lincoln, is without a doubt, the finest actor of modern times. In this film, he transforms himself so believably that, at times, I actually felt as if I was actually watching the man himself in an historic documentary. Other wonderful performances are also made by Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones as Lincoln's primary advocate in congress. David Strathairn also does a great job as Secretary of State Seward, but it's Day-Lewis who absolutely steals the show and reveals much more of the personal side of Lincoln that we are not accustomed to seeing, including a keen sense of humor, as he wrestles for bipartisan support to get his amendment passed by a hostile Congress, and at the same time dealing with his own personal grief over the loss of his son, and his strained relationship with his oldest son Robert.

It's bit long, but really needs to be to complete the story. If you're a history buff or just a fan of extremely fine acting, this is definitely one not to miss.

-- Steve Kalberg, Lawrenceville