Monday, February 11, 2013
Movie review: Lincoln
I was not overly impressed with this movie.
First, the lead, Daniel Day Lewis, just did not capture my attention. I thought he lacked charisma. I was very conscious of the makeup. Lincoln, for whatever reason, was a very wrinkly man. The actor chosen to play him was not. The result was a heavy makeup job that made his face rigid and impeded his credibility. I wanted to be riveted by this character, but I just wasn't.
I was intrigued with the way they portrayed Lincoln as being slightly round shouldered and walking with an awkward, halting gait. I had not thought of him that way before, but it makes sense with him being so tall and thin. He might have had mild Marfan syndrome.
Second, about the lighting: it seemed to me as if the whole thing were done to imitate the sepia colored photographs of the day. Everything was pale and dingy. I see no reason to suppose that colors were any less vivid back then than they are now.
There were performances that I especially enjoyed, those of Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field. I've always liked both of those performers and I thought they did well in this show.
Also I thought Gloria Reuben was good.
The first black soldier who spoke to Lincoln was good, too, but I can't figure out who played them.
Otherwise, I thought the performances adequate, but undistinguished.
Another thing that bothered me was that, despite this movie being about the 13th amendment, which abolished slavery, and therefore about freeing black people, the movie was mostly focused on white people -- and mostly male white people. I suppose that this was accurate, in terms of how these people saw themselves and their lives, but still it does not seem right.
I looked around the theater carefully. This was February 9, so the movie had already been playing for a long time. As a result, the theater was not full at all: probably not more than 30 people there -- but, of those there, only one was not white that I could see. This was consistent with the casting. Obviously it was a movie by and for white people. The audience reflected that.
It seems to be quite common in movies that there are many meaty male roles, but women are limited. Here Sally Fields had a meaty role, but most of the characters were white men.
I do feel somewhat better educated about the events of the time, which I suppose is a good thing.
Still, on balance, I found the thing not so hot.