|Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln"|
Rarely in a movie theater do you feel a sharp intake of breath then hear a round of applause at the end of a film.
The tough New York crowd at the opening day of “Lincoln” however made clear their feelings after the Steven Spielberg film ended.
I think most of the applause had to be for Anglo-Irish actor Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrayal of America’s most beloved president.
Day-Lewis didn’t just play Lincoln he inhabited him, giving him a sense of humanity and deep emotion all too rare in the usual hagiographies.
We have always know Day-Lewis to be capable of great art in his Irish movies, as Christy Brown in ‘My Left Foot’ or Gerry Conlon in ‘In the Name of the Father’ The Guildford Four movie, but as Lincoln he surpasses his own high standards.
This all too human, Lincoln, deeply grieving the death of his son, arguing constantly with his clinically depressed wife, walking the empty halls of the White House late at night too troubled to sleep is a powerful portrait.
Above all the nobility of his cause comes through. Has there ever been such a struggle in this country as the battle to end slavery?
Day-Lewis plays Lincoln as a deeply divided soul, wondering whether the best objective is to end the war and deal with slavery later as most of his advisors urge, or force the 13th amendment through, come hell or high water.
The interior life of Lincoln is revealed, the man who disliked and was disliked by his father, the rough and ready plainsman ready with a bawdy joke or a funny story, the conflicted father when his oldest son wants to sign up for the army he is commander-in-chief of, the wordsmith like no other composing his Gettysburg Address and second inaugural speech, two of the most powerful pieces ever written
Day-Lewis al portrays Lincoln as a cunning politician, ready to use whatever tools at his disposal to pass the 13th Amendment banning slavery.
He is not too “Honest Abe” to countenance blatant bribery, not too proud to plead cajole and beg votes from Democrats he needs, not too saintly to let loose with profane invective and lashing out when his cabinet disagrees with him.
His genius was that it was all for a greater cause, can there ever have been a more worthy one?
He recalls seeing a boatload of black slaves in chains going down the Mississippi river when he was a child. It let a permanent mark on him.
This film will touch everyone who sees it and I urge you to go and bring your loved ones. It shows how magnificent a leader and yet how ordinary a man our most beloved president was. It touches the soul as surely as Lincoln did to so many in his own time.