Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: PG Length: 95 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 10+. The film is about the span of a few years during Abraham Lincoln’s childhood, and there are some unsettling things that happen: some of his relatives and his biological mother die from an illness; his father is emotionally distant and physically abusive, beating him with a switch; and other children bully him. None of it feels gratuitous, but those elements coupled with the somber tone might be too inaccessible for very young children.
‘The Better Angels’ depicts some years of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood, suffering through the loss of his mother and cold distance from his father. But while visually beautiful, the film doesn’t provide any sense of Lincoln’s actual self.
By Roxana Hadadi
A Terrence Malick film is an instantly recognizable thing; if you’ve seen one of his works, like “The Tree of Life,” you’re not going to forget it. Filmmaker A.J. Edwards knows this: He edited Malick’s film “To the Wonder,” and two have worked together for years. Yet for his directorial debut, Edwards isn’t just inspired by Malick’s style—he essentially fully copies it. “The Better Angels” is stylistically impressive but essentially derivative, and as a biography of President Abraham Lincoln’s early life, it is thinly sketched at best.