GenreBiography, Drama, History Duration CountryUnited States
Release dateJanuary 18, 2014 (2014-01-18) (Sundance)
November 7, 2014 (2014-11-07) (United States) ProducersTerrence Malick, Daniel J. DeVito, Charley Beil, Nicolas Gonda CastDiane Kruger (Sarah Lincoln), Jason Clarke (Tom Lincoln), Brit Marling (Nancy Lincoln), Wes Bentley (Mr. Crawford) Similar moviesThe Grey, Into the Wild, Into the Grizzly Maze, Prey, Walkabout, The Story of the Weeping Camel
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The Better Angels is a 2014 American biographical drama-historical film about United States President Abraham Lincoln's formative years. It was written and directed by A. J. Edwards.
The film had its premiere at 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2014. It was subsequently screened in the Panorama program at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival on February 8, 2014.
In March 2014, Amplify acquired distribution rights to the film. It was released on November 7, 2014.
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Synopsis and background
This film serves as a story of Abraham Lincoln's childhood, his upbringing in Indiana, and the hardships and tragedies that made him the man he was. Lincoln lived more than thirteen years in Indiana, but the film focuses on his life from ages eight to eleven or twelve, and explores Lincoln's relationships between Lincoln and his birth mother and his stepmother. Lincoln historian and scholar William Bartelt served as a historical consultant for the film with Bartelt's book There I Grew Up providing substantial inspiration to the filmmakers. The title of the film, "The Better Angels," is borrowed from the final words of Lincoln’s first inaugural address, “the better angels of our nature.”
Diane Kruger as Sarah Lincoln
Jason Clarke as Thomas Lincoln
Brit Marling as Nancy Lincoln
Wes Bentley as Mr. Crawford
Braydon Denney as Abe (Young Abraham Lincoln)
Cameron Mitchell Williams as Dennis Hanks
The Better Angels received mixed reviews from critics. Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review, saying it's "a beautiful, arty, very Malick-influenced evocation of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood." Katie Hasty of HitFix praised the film by saying it is "a lushly conceived, exhaustively realized debut feature that'd be pretty formidable stuff coming from a more practised filmmaker — and derided in some quarters as a self-impressed knock-off." Rodrigo Perez in his Indiewire review said the movie focuses "on mood, nature, divinity and celestial atmosphere" rather than story.
Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 39 percent, based on reviews from 41 critics, 16 of which were positive. According to the website, the film is "Malick-inspired but not as inspired as Malick, The Better Angels muffles an interesting idea under ponderous execution."
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