Film Review: ‘The Better Angels” (2014)
Written and Directed by: A.J. Edwards
Produced by: Terrence Malick, Charley Beil, Jake DeVito
Starring: Jason Clarke, Diane Kruger, Brit Marling, Wes Bentley, Braydon Denney, Cameron Mitchell Williams, McKenzie Blankenship, Ryan McFall, Madison Stiltner, Bruce Bayard
Hollywood has made so many films about one of the most admired president Abraham Lincoln. But none of them told it the way it has been told by A.J. Edwards, with the blessing of Terrence Malick. Saying that, it does not necessarily mean “The Better Angels” is another “The Tree of Life”, or “To The Wonder”, but rather a copy of Malick`s work, which I don`t mind seeing since it’s the way Malick used to show us This idea was approved by one of the more intelligent directors in modern cinematography.
The Better Angels follows young Abraham Lincoln, who does not yet know who he is about to become… But, until the life changing day comes that will make him immortal, Lincoln faces battles in the harsh wilderness of Indiana, with difficulties he must confront, and tragedies that will stay with him forever. The two women staying with him in these most difficult moments are who guide him to immortality.
The film begins a little bit slow, as in most of Malick`s films. This film is not about its unhurried beginning, but more about the story that develops as the film progresses. We soon find out that Tom Lincoln (Jason Clarke) likes to drink, but in the meantime does not forget to educate his son, in his own way, and his mother, Sarah Lincoln (Diane Kruger), is always there to stand up for her son. Lincoln Senior is pretty rough on his son, but this is how he shapes him to become the future president of a young nation.
Edward`s film progresses the way all Malick film`s do. What brings real beauty to this film is the black-and-white format, which never fails. Even though, by the middle of the film, The Better Angels becomes a little bit boring, with scenes that drag on, we as loyal fans of Malick`s work wait for the miracle, or the deeper meaning of the film, which we except to appear very soon – the light at the end of the tunnel.
A.J. Edwards, in his featured film, tries to copy his master`s work, which Malick seems did not mind at all, and moreover, he allows his name to appear as the producer of the film, which means he guides Edwards on his journey to become one of the more promising filmmakers. Jason Clarke and Diana Kruger delivers a solid performance, while newcomer, Braydon Denney shines as young Lincoln.
The Better Angels is a good film for Malick-film-styles lovers, and tells an interesting story of a young boy, who has to deal with the hardships of life, to become, as we all know, the Sixteenth President of the United States. Edwards`s film is interesting and profound in terms of the life a young person might have showing that with the proper care, and education, and maybe, with a little care from their parents, one day they can become someone like Abraham Lincoln. However, do not expect to find a guide on “How to become a President”, but rather a desire to become someone special one day. This is something this film can undoubtedly offer.