Saturday, October 5, 2013

Parkland: Movie Review


The unfortunate aftermath of Kennedy’s assassination.
Set at Parkland Memorial Hospital and surrounding areas on November 22, 1963 and the days thereafter, “Parkland” is about the circumstances of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But what I primarily liked about the film is that Kennedy is not a character, this is not about him, but about those that had no choice but to be thrust into a chaotic situation. 2013

Directed by: Peter Landesman

Screenplay by: Peter Landesman

Starring: James Badge Dale, Paul Giamatti and Zac Efron

Photos courtesy of Remstar Medias.
Dr. Jim Carrico (Zac Efron), Dr. Malcolm Perry (Colin Hanks) are the lead doctors entrusted with the life of Kennedy and Nurse Dorris Nelson (Marcia Gay Harden) is the experienced nurse who knows what needs to be done. I wish we spent a bit less time in the operating room; for starters, we don’t need to see Jackie Kennedy holding on to the President’s brain. These characters don’t prove to be as interesting as some of the others but they do still have a compelling narrative nonetheless.

In an ensemble film with dozens of stars, there were exactly two stand-outs: Paul Giamatti as Abraham Zapruder and James Badge Dale was Robert Oswald, brother to Lee Harvey Oswald. They're also the most interesting of the characters. Both reluctantly became famous or infamous. Robert Oswald was shown to be hardworking and full of compassion and frustrated by his brother’s likely mental instability. With an also mentally unstable mother (Jacki Weaver), Robert had no choice but to figure out what his brother did and be the touch-point for government officials.

Life proved to be just as difficult for amateur photographer Abraham Zapruder who is a Kennedy enthusiast. This was going to be the greatest day of his life when he captured the passing motorcade on his 8mm camera. His story is about processing what’s on his film and then figuring out what do with it, the consequences of which he never fully recovered from.

The other main story is of the Secret Service agents, all of whom looked identical so it was hard to separate one person’s story from another, making it a much more jumbled mess than Zapruder’s or Oswald’s deeply touching stories.

“Parkland” is really just a simple film about real people who had no desire to be in the spotlight. The editing and timing from switching from one story to the next worked well. The problem is just an inherent one: some character's stories were more interesting than others, but that’s what you get with an interwoven tale of strangers coming together.