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A couple of years ago I spent the summer immersed in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln”; imbued with remarkable scholarship and monumental respect for a man who changed a country, freed a population; now, almost a hundred and fifty years after his death is revered, lionized, quoted feverishly and consistently by all political parties; a perspicacious visionary, a man for all times, Abraham Lincoln.

“Lincoln” based on Goodwin’s biography is intensely intelligent, honest to the times and luminously acted, especially by the fastidiously -gifted, Daniel Day Lewis as “Lincoln”. Lewis delved into the essence of the man and unearths Lincoln’s astute ability of knowing how it feels to stand in another’s shoes; walk, talk and listen to soldiers still fighting and those maimed in the war; questing to understand the burden of being “black” and invisible; intransigent in ratifying the thirteenth amendment . Lincoln had the mettle of the mighty and Lewis exhibits its strength in every wrenching scene.   

Sally Field gives her finest performance in years as “Mary Todd Lincoln”: disturbed, bright, insightful, mourning a dead son and fearing for the demise of another; loving, admiring her husband, forecasting the worshipful legacy of Lincoln as well as her tarnished, tainted reputation, molded into perpetuity. Field puts a human, sensitive, painful face on the wounded First Lady.

“A Team of Rivals” focuses on Lincoln’s unique talent of incorporating his adversaries into his political arena; a prime example was William Henry Seward (New York, Senator) a “rival” for the office of the Presidency; appointed Secretary of State and a faithful, perpetual friend of the President. David Strathairn’s portrayal is superbly solid, refined, legitimate.

Tommy Lee Jones as “Thaddeus Stevens” (feisty, abolitionist from Pennsylvania) is astounding; he captures the erudite, acid-tongued, curmudgeon as no other actor could .

The film’s  greatness lies in the struggle not only to end the Civil War but passing the 13th amendment; what is obvious and accepted in the twenty-first century was obtained by besting massive obstacles. “Lincoln” shines in depicting the divisiveness of Congress in 1865; knowing the outcome did not diminish the excitement, temerity, struggle manifested by each man casting his “yea” or “nay”; audiences cheer with the final positive number.

“Lincoln” soars as a film, a history lesson, and the visual actualization that the force of the written and spoken word, can irrevocably alter a nation.

FOUR & 1/2 STARS!!!!

For Now……..Peneflix


  1. Dear Peneflix,

    Do you think this movie is appropriate for children? My seven year old daughter has read a children’s biography of Lincoln and I wonder if this movie would be OK for her to see?

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. Thought it deserved 5. The cinematography was flawless!
    The way Spielberg framed Lincoln in each situation was genius! That last image of Lincoln leaving the White House!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Held back because I felt the commencement was too heavy handed. A minor flaw but folks were nodding off. Otherwise in total agreement with you! Thanks for your insights. P.

  3. Thanks for your skillfully detailed reveiw. Now I am eager to see the movie! Your comments will enhance our trip to the theater. As you know, J and I are not movie goers. However, we are lovers of history and read “The Team of Rivals”. When we saw the trailers we put it on our “Must See List”! Thanks, PS

  4. I learned so much from this film. Never realized the North was so divided on freeing the slaves. I thought Lincoln would seem more depressive, but he had a twinkle most of the time, and his immense knowledge, self-taught, was used in intriguing ways to tell rambling stories that drove home crucial points to the people he understood so well.

    • Yes, it was masterful and illuminating! Always apprreciate your wisdom. Read “Team of Rivals” if you havn’t already.
      Doris Kearns Goodwin, a brilliant woman with a beautiful soul! Thanks, P.

  5. Thanks Penelope,

    I’ll go see it !!


  6. Another excellent review, Peneflix! Daniel Day Lewis was an amazing Lincoln, definitely worthy of the Academy Award for his performance. He portrayed a Lincoln ( have not read the book) more lively, and, with more humor than Lincoln has been depicted in other books I have read.

    The beginning was a bit long and “wordy”, my neighbor was snoring and others I know fell asleep, but, an excellent film, and, a good lesson of bipartisanism in Washington.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. I loved it and sobbed when they were in the chamber for the vote. Could not stop thinking about the freedoms that we take for granted.
    Doris Kearns Goodwin speaks about Lincoln’s sense of humor and I enjoyed how it was portrayed. I also appreciated Sally Fields and how Mary Todd Lincoln was portrayed.
    I hope your Thanksgiving was perfect.

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