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Parkland - Review

Parkland

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

MUCH like the events of 9/11 or the death of Princess Diana, the assassination of US President John F Kennedy is one of those world-altering moments in history that almost everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when it was announced.

But while the events of November 22, 1963, are well documented and conspiracy theories continue to abound concerning The Kennedys, what of the other people whose lives were changed on that infamous day in Dallas?

Peter Landesman’s compelling film examines this moment in history (and the three days that followed) through the eyes of some of those people, from the surgeons and nurses who tried but failed to save him to the FBI agents who attempted to pick up the pieces afterwards, right through to the only person to have caught the events on camera and -perhaps most tellingly – the brother and mother of shooter Lee Harvey Oswald.

In that regard, it’s a richly absorbing and sometimes even eye-opening affair that grips from start to finish.

Landesman, a former war correspondent and investigative journalist, is meticulous in replaying the events, using both archive footage and a close eye for period detail as he draws from Vincent Bugliosi’s narrative, Four Days in November.

He also shoots the film with a realistic, documentary style akin to the work of Paul Greengrass, whose regular cinematographer Barry Ackroyd is also on duty here.

And he also draws some fantastic performances from a quality ensemble cast, the most notable of whom include James Badge Dale as Robert Oswald (dealing with his brother’s complicity and his own confusion and hurt with heartfelt dignity), Paul Giamatti as the suitably appalled amateur Super 8 camera-man and businessman Abraham Zapruder, Ron Livingston as the FBI agent who had been trailing Oswald and Jacki Weaver as Oswald’s deluded (and still doting) mother.

If there are criticisms, they maybe stem from there being too many characters to do quite enough service to (there will be some you’ll want to see more of), while Landesman neither delves too deeply into the conspiracy (Oswald himself only gives a cursory nod towards not believing everything being reported) or probes enough into the politics of the time (Kennedy emerges as a heroic figure).

But in spite of its shortcomings the film still exercises a strong emotional grip and delivers some genuinely brilliant (and insightful) moments, the standout of which has to be the juxtaposition of Kennedy’s funeral with Oswald’s burial on the same day.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 94mins
UK Release Date: November 22, 2013