our film reviews: from armchair viewing to the festival front row

27 October 2006

[Reel-Reviews] Bobby (4 stars)

This is the story of the eponymous assasinated senator - isn't it? The short answer is it's not that simple. It is the story - scrap that, the stories (plural) of a group of unrelated, everyday Americans in the Ambassador Hotel in June 1968 over the 18 hours before RFK's shooting.

Much of the film uses an incredibly clever interweaving of news footage from the months before and day of the assination itself with a brilliant ensemble acting piece (oh, that a cast...). But to even say this much implies it's a film building up to a shooting scene - and it's not: it's a film about a day in the life of everyday America but with echoes down the decades. There are references to voting and the Presidential primaries, but also to everything from fashion and current affairs, to MLK's assasination and Vietnam. And Estevez whispers in our ears the reminder that there are no shortage of parallels to our own times...

Of course you can't miss what you never had, but this is Estevez's version of events surrounding the "President they never had". And Bobby's really a minor character in what is actually a study of the signs of the times. As one of the campaigners says, "Now Dr King is dead, there's only Bobby." Just a man - not the Senator or a presidential hopeful, but a man, and one whose election to high office could have impacted our world in ways we dare not guess. And yet he was only one man - an individual, one of us.

The pivot point is Laurence Fishburne's chef telling a tale of the medieval king who would become Arthur. He was not always thus, it was a role that he grew into, and yet was all along - a once and future king. Estevez's film forces us to ask the question - if Bobby Kennedy was that once upon a time, who is our current once and future king?

IMDB listing, technorati tag: ,


Blogger MSPD said...

The the final 15 minutes could have been omitted and I'd have left the cinema feeling I'd seen a fantastically observed and carefully crafted film. Instead by the time the assassination occurs I was trully shocked by the brutality with which it disturbs all the wonderful characters I'd got to know.

A random line from Martin Sheen's character stands out: "somewhere between our stuff and our things is us"

27/10/06 22:10

Blogger Fat Roland said...

You not going to give *everything* four stars are you?

28/10/06 13:12

Blogger MSPD said...

Ha! We were just discussing this on the way back tonight having seen another 4 star film and a 3 star film today. On the one hand should we be more harsh / are we being too kind? On the other hand should we just say due credit to the programmers for choosing such an excellent lineup? L says I can view and review a load of crap films if I want to balance out the blog - War of the Worlds here we come!

29/10/06 22:14

Blogger LauraHD said...

when he says "due credit to the programmers" - he better mean me for picking this glorious selection!... Otherwise (as one of the female leads said this evening in Breaking and Entering) "I don't need a husband, I need a good night's sleep".

29/10/06 23:43


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