Somehow I managed to hit this film cold with no knowledge beyond history of the subject matter, so the tight focus on passing the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery caught me by surprise.
This is a film about lofty ideals sought by grubby backroom deals, of the compromises necessary to politics, of a man desperate to achieve an end to slavery.
Daniel Day-Lewis is superb in the role, and Sally Field also delivers a strong performance as Mary Lincoln. Overall the entire cast is solid, and special mention does need to be made of Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens.
I did struggle with the dim lighting of Lincoln, and early on the accents of the dialogue did make some aspects difficult for me to follow.
The passing of the 13th Amendment, incomplete and imperfect as it may have been, was an important moment in history, and worthy of the focus of Lincoln. But from a story telling perspective, it means that Lincoln starts deeply in media res and in a way that may be incomprehensible to those who aren’t familiar with the history of the United States.
There’s no denying that Lincoln is compelling viewing, and that it is a film that everyone should see at least once.
But I’m still left with that uncertainty as to whether or not I liked it.