The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Parkland | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Parkland

Dramatization of the events in Dallas immediately following the assassination of JFK.

Directed by: Peter Landesman
Starring: Zac Efron, Tom Welling, Billy Bob Thornton, Marcia Gay Harden, Paul Giamatti, Ron Livingston, James Badge Dale, Mark Duplass, Gil Bellows, Colin Hanks, Jackie Earle Haley, Rory Cochrane, Jacki Weaver, Jeremy Strong, Glen Morshower

It's November 22nd, 1963 and President John F Kennedy's motorcade is passing through downtown Dallas when a series of shots ring out. Shot in the head, Kennedy is rushed to the city's Parkland hospital where he is pronounced dead after doctors fail to revive him.
Peter Landesman's Parkland, adapted form Vincent Bugliosi's book Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F Kennedy, focuses on the immediate impact of Kennedy's killing.
Paul Giamatti is Abraham Zapruder, who captured the shooting on his 8mm camera; footage that would become arguably the most famous in the history of amateur photography. We see him thrust into the spotlight as the only man who possesses such crucial evidence. Zapruder is torn between his respect for the murdered president and the knowledge that the fee offered for his footage by media outlets is enough to ensure his family a comfortable life.
Ron Livingston is James P Hosty, the FBI agent racked by guilt over not investigating Lee Harvey Oswald (Strong) thoroughly enough following Oswald's return from the Soviet Union, where he had defected several years earlier.
James Badge Dale is Robert Oswald, brother of the man plunged into infamy. Caught completely off guard by his brother's actions, he now finds himself a member of America's most despised family.
The film focuses mainly on the above three characters but it's very much an ensemble affair and a considerably comprehensive "who's who?" of contemporary character actors. Everyone acquits themselves well, with the exception of Jacki Weaver who is horribly over the top as the remorseless mother of Lee Harvey Oswald.
Most dramatic works based on this subject focus on the speculative aspect of the assassination but Landesman's film sticks very much to the established facts. The result is a movie that feels like the re-enactment segments of the various Discovery Channel documentaries that air round the clock at this time of year, albeit with a standout cast. Apart from a couple of behind the scenes details (Robert Oswald having to ask photographers to act as pallbearers at his brother's funeral, the struggle to get Kennedy's coffin inside the passenger area of a plane rather than being placed in the baggage hold) there's nothing we haven't seen before.
The film gives us little insight beyond its characters being upset at the situation they find themselves in but the abundance of quality acting on display makes it a passable watch, though there are countless documentaries that would serve the same purpose.

Eric Hillis