From Sam Fragoso‘s Sundance review: “Directed by A.J. Edwards, The Better Angels (Amplify, 11.7) dives headfirst into the formative years of a 12-year-old Abraham Lincoln (Braydon Denney). Set in Indiana circa 1817 where little Lincoln –observant and taciturn — aimlessly wanders in the woods, chopping wood, spending the bulk of his time listening to the sage words of his father (Jason Clarke) and mother (Brit Marling). The film represents this as a simpler time when a family could live in a log cabin and spend their days endlessly exploring the beauty of nature.
“Produced by Terrence Malick and clearly inspired by Days of Heaven and The Tree of Life, the black-and-white tale roves from one sequence to the next with an ethereal, meditative quality. If Edwards’ directorial debut is any indication, Lincoln’s abusive patriarch and supportive matriarch played an instrumental role in shaping the man would become one of this nation’s greatest leaders.
“The Better Angels eschews any sort of narrative linearity (and occasionally, coherency) without entirely alienating its audience. At times Edward’s seems frustratingly adamant on channeling the perplexingly pensive quality of To the Wonder. Thankfully that’s only a phase that the film quickly abandons. To best experience The Better Angels one must — as you would with a Malick film — allow the film and its breathtaking imagery to wash over you.”