Rated 5.0

The new Abe Lincoln picture from Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner is an historical epic of a quality that is exceptionally rare in American movies. Kushner’s brilliant script focuses on Lincoln and his contemporaries and on the complex political maneuvering involved in getting slavery abolished, via the Thirteenth Amendment, in the first four months of the war’s final year, 1865. That much historical specificity may sound a little daunting—or by some lights, a little too dry—but the Spielberg/Kushner Lincoln is never dull. There’s a fresh, canny mixture of docudrama and dramatic entertainment throughout, and a wonderfully trenchant and diverse cast provides vivid foreground and background alike in this unusual and complex version of Spielbergian spectacle. Daniel Day-Lewis’ reedy and avuncular performance in the title role is a genuinely magnificent spectacle in its own right. Sally Field (as the emotionally divided Mary Todd Lincoln), David Strathairn (as William Seward, Lincoln’s shrewdly droll right hand man and Secretary of State), and Tommy Lee Jones (as the firebrand abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens) make especially strong impressions. Cinemark 14. Rated PG-13.