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Reviews for February 15th, 2013

Saving Lincoln

Directed by Salvador Litvak

      Tom Amandes stars as the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, who survived many failed attempts at assassinations against him until a successful assassination occurred in Ford's Theater on April 15th, 1865. Who deserves the credit for foiling the assassination attempts prior to April 15th, 1865? None other than Lincoln's bodyguard and best friend, Ward Hill Lamon (Lea Coco). Bruce Davison shows up as the Secretary of State, and Penelope Anne Miller plays Lincoln's wife, Mary.

      While comparisons to Steven Spielberg's Lincoln might appear to be tempting to do, it would be a cul-de-sac because Saving Lincoln has only one thing in common with that film: Abraham Lincoln. Beyond that, both films are like apples and oranges. Director/co-writer Salvador Litvak takes risks by using a new process called CineCollage which turns real photographs from the Civil War into set pieces as if Litvak's actors were right there during the era. Those risks pay off because he achieves quite a visual feat that makes the film an aesthetic wonder to behold on the big screen. If the film were over 2 hours long instead of 1 hour and 40 minutes, those special effects would have suffered from diminish returns and would have caused you to become exhausted, so, fortunately, Saving Lincoln never overstays its welcome.

      Each actor and actress gives a solid performance, but they come across as too theatrical more often than not. Perhaps Saving Lincoln would have worked slightly better as a play rather than a film. The theatricality juxtaposed with the CineCollage makes for an awkward experience that's difficult to engage with emotionally. Some of the beards look very fake which takes away from the authenticity that the CineCollage effects add. Moreover, Litvak and co-writer haphazardly condense many events from Lincoln's life is President without letting you get fully absorbed in those events. The result makes the film feel convoluted, overstuffed, shallow, cold and slightly underwhelming, but at least it's never boring.

Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Pictures From the Fringe.
Opens at the Quad Cinema.

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