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Stories of racism, infidelity, aging, the effects of the Vietnam War, drugs: Why RFK's death was so impactful

  • Apr 11, 2007
Rating:
+3
BOBBY as written and directed (and starring) Emilio Estevez is not simply a recreation of the fateful night June 6, 1968 when Bobby Kennedy was shot, though that event is meticulously dissected as the sun dawns on Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel on that day. This film is a series of vignettes of the lives of many people (22 examples shine) whose hope for a better future than that of a country undergoing disintegration on many levels were shattered. It is about 'little people', people with choices whose responses to the death of a hero is devastating.

Racism (Christian Slater vs Laurence Fishburne vs interaction with Freddy Rodríguez and Jacob Vargas); hippie/white collar drug abuse (Ashton Kutcher dealing LSD to Brian Geraghty and Shia LaBeouf, Demi Moore's alcoholism defeating her marriage to Emilio Estevez and career as a lounge singer); aging and the problems of 'useless old people' (Harry Belafonte and Anthony Hopkins); adultery (hotel manager William Macy married to beautician Sharon Stone yet having an affair with switchboard operator Heather Graham); marriages teetering on commercialism (Martin Sheen and Helen Hunt); young political aspirants basing futures on RFK (Joshua Jackson and Nick Cannon); and the extremes to which young men will go to avoid being sent to Vietnam (Elijah Wood and Lindsay Lohan) - these are the main characters we get to know as they prepare for the evening's party for RFK and then suffer the explosive effect of the shooting by Sirhan Sirhan (David Kobzantsev). The power of the film lies in the impact Bobby Kennedy had on all of these people who represent the rest of a nation.

Estevez wisely uses film footage from life to project the speech and presence of RFK: using an actor to depict him would have made the effect less sharp. But in the end, as it seems apparent from Estevez' script, the power comes from the messages in the voice-over of Kennedy's own speeches, words to offer hope and a chance for resolution of the many conflicts that threatened to destroy the US. Would that there were minds with such thoughts speaking today when a leader is so desperately needed! The film has flaws (it would be difficult for a two hour enactment of a well known yet partially fictionalized incident not to). But the message is pungent and clear: we MUST care for each other as a country and forgo the alienation that is so rampant. A very fine film for thought. Grady Harp, April 07

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More Bobby reviews
review by . July 21, 2009
Pros: incredible cast, great music, good script and a story of heartbreak     Cons: none for me     The Bottom Line:   "For those we lose before their time,  I pray their souls will find a light  I know that the day will surely come, when it will be done"  ~Adams     I had forgotten the anger and mistrust that covered our Nation during the 1960-1970 era but a recent viewing of Bobby, written and directed …
review by . April 29, 2009
I only got this movie because of the all-star cast. Having lived through the events I didn't feel the movie would do it justice but I was wrong. The movie uses all real footage of the events leading up to June 4, 1968 and focuses on the hotel on that fateful day. It is basically like the movie "Crash" and has many different stories going on at once inside the hotel where Kennedy's victory party and shooting took place. Like Crash the stories come together when the Senator is shot just after he makes …
review by . June 12, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
I only got this movie because of the all-star cast. Having lived through the events I didn't feel the movie would do it justice but I was wrong. The movie uses all real footage of the events leading up to June 4, 1968 and focuses on the hotel on that fateful day. It is basically like the movie "Crash" and has many different stories going on at once inside the hotel where Kennedy's victory party and shooting took place. Like Crash the stories come together when the Senator is shot just after he makes …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #97
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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In the final quarter or so ofBobby, writer-director-actor Emilio Estevez finally starts tightening his grip on the viewer as we head inexorably toward the film's climax: the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in a Los Angeles hotel kitchen. In the course of these scenes--among them Kennedy's acceptance speech after winning the California Democratic presidential primary (the senator is seen only in file footage), his death at the hands of gunman Sirhan Sirhan, and the chaos and despair that ensued--Estevez steadily ratchets up the sense of tension and dread. Knowing exactly what's coming, while the characters onscreen don't, is excruciating, as is our grief at hearing RFK's own words, so eloquent, so hopeful and inspiring, as we watch the horrible events unfold and wonder what might have been (sure it's manipulative--but it works). But the rest ofBobbyisn't nearly as compelling. Nor is it really about Kennedy, despite its obvious adulation of the man whom many thought would defeat Richard Nixon in the '68 general election. In the tradition of, say, an Irwin Allen disaster flick, we're invited into the lives of nearly two dozen folks, most of them at least partly fictional, who were at the Ambassador Hotel that June day, including guests, staff (kitchen workers, switchboard operators, management, etc.), campaign workers, reporters, and more. There are lots of movie stars in the cast, and some of them (Sharon Stone, Helen Hunt, William ...
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