I feel like great films about U.S. presidents don’t get made very often. We’ve seen a small run on them recently, with Josh Brolin in decent, but flawed W and Frank Langella in the transcendently good Frost/Nixon, and I suppose if we dig back a few years we’ve got Anthony Hopkins’s Nixon as well. A couple of JFK-based movies - Oliver Stone’s JFK and Costner’s Thirteen Days. But we seem to be treading through the same presidents.
I mean, there were 43 prior to the current one. There’s other material out there, folks. I’m not saying I want to see a pic about Mallard Filmore, but still.
Well, Robert Redford, hot off the painful failure that was Lions for Lambs, is set to direct The Conspirator, a film about the Lincoln assassination, an event I’m always surprised hasn’t gotten more attention (other than middling TV movies and an awkward, idiotic plot device in the second National Treasure). The film, as you may have surmised from the title, is more about the plot to assassinate the president than the president himself, but still. It’s a massively important event in US history and deserves a great film. Off the top of my head, I can only think of the performances by Raymond Massey and Walter Huston, 70-80 years ago, when it comes to great portrayals of Lincoln.
Anyway, this is primarily about Mary Surratt, one of Booth’s co-conspirators. So far, the only cast mentioned has been James McAvoy, which is outstanding, and I’m pretty much happy to see him play anyone these days. The man needs more good work.