Steven Spielberg’s film about the 16th president, loosely based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals and written by playwright Tony Kushner, casts the usual amber glow on 19th-century history as it details Lincoln’s efforts to get Congress to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in the waning days of the Civil War. Daniel Day-Lewis works mightily to channel the folksy Lincoln, but is so encased by makeup he resembles a wax effigy. Sally Field’s zesty performance as the formidable, slightly mad Mary Todd Lincoln briefly jolts the long film from its somnolence, and Tommy Lee Jones is entertaining as abolitionist congressman Thaddeus Stevens. But the film is an unsatisfying combination of civics lesson and Spielbergian sentimentality.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Tony Kushnerr and Doris Kearns Goodwin
Producer: Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Jackie Earle Haley, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jared Harris, James Spader, Lee Pace, David Strathairn and John Hawkes