Lincoln ★★★★

Every year during Oscar season, there's (at least) one movie I want to want to see. This year, that film was Lincoln. I'm neither a history buff nor an American, so the thought of a 2.5 hour epic - set amidst a specific time period which I find largely unpalatable and in a country whose history I have never found all that interesting (these are personal opinions, of course) - met me with a lot of hesitation. I instead viewed a couple of terrible movies while avoiding the required mindset needed to experience Lincoln.

But now I've seen Lincoln. And it is a great film. Everything about this film is masterful - sets and costumes truly capture an unromanticized nation in the midst of upheaval, performances by an ensemble cast who evoke the weight and importance of their decisions, and controlled cinematography that brings urgency and solemnity in equal measure throughout the film. All of the pieces are there to make a perfect film, but it just didn't resonate with me personally.

Again (I feel I need to qualify that I did indeed recognize it), Lincoln is a great film. But it's also a boring one. It feels like a character study - placing characters in historically-accurate settings (helmed by masterful actors) and reinforcing their burdens and tribulations through compelling dialogue. Every moment that Day-Lewis takes over a scene with one of Lincoln's "stories", I am awestruck both at his ability to become this character and the weight of the poetic words he delivers. There's no single member of the cast that I found fault with, and no single scene stuck out as wasted or unnecessary. So why am I not praising this film, which I am ready to accept is possibly this year's best film? Because I didn't love it.

Perhaps because the film is historically grounded, there is no mystery to how this will all play out. However masterful Spielberg and his cast and crew are, this is simply a story that I didn't find myself moved by, excited by, nor inspired by. I knew going into the film how the story would unfold, and while I wasn't disappointed with the quality of its unfolding, I was perhaps disappointed that it couldn't have unfolded any other way but predictably.