Sunday, November 25, 2012

Movie Review - Lincoln


I watched Lincoln yesterday on advice of David Brooks (though it was not at the cost of shopping for me). Bit 'underwhelming' for me. May be because of the buzz, I expected more. 

The problem with the topic is it is such an 'over researched' chapter of American History. Those of us who have followed Obama Administration over years and in particular all the sausage making of ObamaCare, hardly are surprised by Lincoln’s ‘here and now’ Politics. Obama had followed this model of Politics in rallying Nancy’s  Democratic Caucus to support ObamaCare. We still vividly remember Nebraska Corn Husker, Louisiana Purchase, endless chasing of Iowa Senator Grassley and eventually failed courting of Maine Sisters; we know all that. It was about practicing 'Lincoln model of legislation'. Obama very appropriately invoked Lincoln then too. But for a greater and lesser extent, this is how ‘law making’ is always done; whether it is History making laws or mundane passing of budgets. May be this movie brings this aspect very strongly, explicitly to a larger audience and probably it has done a great job of that since Americans need to understand how Congress works or fails

But I am thinking at this point in time when we have just re-elected the first Black Commander-in-Chief, we may want to look at aspects which are larger than an individual i.e. in this case beyond Lincoln. I agree that Lincoln is singularly 'rarest' of those individuals who made 'difference' single handedly. But then this fact is so well established, to portray it using the pivot of 13th amendment only; I am not sure that it is so convincing. (Or possibly I lack the necessary grasp of American History to understand it fully.) Overall I wished to see more of other aspects of that whole History beyond an individual, aspects like how economic incentives of warring colonies influenced their politics. 

I also found the character of Lincoln 'over mature' in this movie. I wished to see more human / mundane aspects of Lincoln. Lincoln in this movie simply confirms the 'larger than life' portrait of him without adding much of insights. Daniel Day-Lewis will not be my pick for his 3rd Best Actor Oscar. But I can be wrong here since there are far more political forces at play - the name is marquee, for God’s sake it is about Lincoln, Hollywood's perennial need to placate GOP and the Emperor of Hollywood has directed the movie

I liked Tommy Lee Jones lot – the character was set properly and he delivered it very well. Meanwhile Sally Field pulled off a powerful performance, I found that character so lively and authentic. 

Overall bit disappointed with the movie. But I am happy to see that Reliance's foray into Hollywood is going so well. That is good for Indian Business, hopefully indirectly to Bollywood too.

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