Lincoln (12A)


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The Independent Culture

Daniel Day-Lewis, adopting the gait and intonation of an elderly Henry Fonda, stars as the 16th and some say finest president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

But despite the monolithic title and the long-running time, this is not a sweeping historical biopic but a chamber piece, tightly focused on the political manoeuvring during January 1865 by which Lincoln was able to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution into law, thereby abolishing slavery.

It is filmed with all necessary stately reverence by Steven Spielberg, and written by the Pulitzer-winning playwright Tony Kushner, with a keen ear for the delightful cadence of 19th-century oratory. "You grousle and heckle and dodge about like pettifogging Tammany Hall hucksters," complains Lincoln to his cabinet.