Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Bobby - Review by Sandra Dupuy

Director: Emilio Estevez
Screenwriter: Emilio Estevez
Running Time: 120 mins
Certificate: 15
Released: Now

The Venice Film Festival audience must have been puffing the magic dragon before they gave a seven-minute long standing ovation to Bobby, Emilio Estevez’s recent attempt to redeem himself after dropping bombs like Men at Work and The War at Home. In Bobby, the former brat-pack star resurfaces with a triple actor-writer- director’s credit, and gives a fictional account of the lives of 22 random people present at the Ambassadors’ Hotel in Los Angeles, on the 6th of June 1968, during the last sixteen hours in the life of Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

The film, a gushing tribute, portrays Bobby Kennedy in a saintly light through a patchwork of archival footage, radio broadcasts, and photos of his presidential campaign. The late sixties are depicted fairly accurately by way of historic photos, news broadcasts, and a lively soundtrack featuring Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Donovan, and Simon and Garfunkel amongst others.

However, the historical accuracy stops right here. Estevez offers no analysis of the murder, the potential conspiracies behind it, or the assassin’s motive. His work, even more biased than Oliver Stone’s JFK, doesn’t mention any anti-Kennedy sentiment held by any individuals or groups.

Most protagonists seem to be unanimous in their absolute admiration for the blue-eyed and steely-smiled senator. The only purpose of the characters in Bobby is that each of them – man or woman, Black or White, young or old, rich or poor – reflects a facet of Kennedy’s political arguments. Young Diane (Lindsay Lohan) gets married to thankful schoolmate William (Elijah Wood) so that he can avoid the Vietnam draft, while anti-war protests rage all over America. African- American chef Edward (Laurence Fishburne) and “We’re-the-new-niggers” Mexican helpers José (Freddy Rodriguez) and Miguel ( Jacob Vargas) argue about minority rights over a blueberry crumble, with syrupy music in the background.

Sharon Stone, while very convincing as an aging big-hearted bimbo beautician, is only there to play opposite more important characters, such as husband and hotel manager Paul (William H. Macy), or Virginia Fallon (Demi Moore), a pathetic alcoholic singer in decline. Neither is there any use for John Casey (Anthony Hopkins), the retired but ever-present hotel doorman, who shells out a sugary smile between two lethal chess moves against Harry Belafonte, taken out of the closet and dusted for the occasion.

In the end, the multi-strand structure, the ensemble cast, and the melodramatic tone of Bobby prove uneven and distracting, and drown Estevez’s initial intention in wishy-washy treacle. Watching Bobby is akin to discovering that the strong and fragrant Espresso one was promised has turned into an saccharine flavoured Americano, too sweet to be enjoyable, and too weak to leave a lasting taste.

Please feel free to post comments...


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Anonymous said...

please listen to/read
"On the Mindless Menace of Violence"
this sums up what the movie is about. not about the life of just Robert Kennedy, but the life of America. It is a movie created to open the eyes and hearts off all who watch it, and remind them that just as Senator Kennedy stated, "violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul."