December 20, 2013
This film "Parkland" was made with a color palette purposefully muted to mesh seamlessly with actual news reels about that fateful day of November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. That was the day an assassin's bullet killed beloved US President John F. Kennedy. The title Parkland refers to the name of the hospital where the fallen president was brought for emergency treatment.
This film though was unlike the other films we might have already seen about the Kennedy Assassination. This is definitely not another "JFK" that offers more conspiracy theories. In fact, this movie is not even directly about JFK himself, nor Lee Harvey Oswald or Jack Ruby, who were the major players in this real-life drama. "Parkland" interweaves for us the stories of various individuals who were indirectly dragged into the tragic mess of that day by sheer chance or coincidence.
Abraham Zapruder is a name we always hear when the topic is about the JFK assassination. Of course, his iconic film clip that graphically shows how the fatal bullet hit JFK during his motorcade. But we do not know or see Zapruder himself until this film. As portrayed by Paul Giamatti, his performance was topnotch and stirring as he grappled with the unwanted responsibility of having captured the moment of JFK's death on film.
Forrest Sorrels is a veteran member of the Secret Service who is devastated that his perfect record of protecting his 'Man" had just been broken on that day. Billy Bob Thornton portrays this character with utmost respect and dignity. We also meet other SS men like Roy Kellerman (Tom Welling), with their touching display of utmost loyalty to their fallen leader.
Dr. Charles Jim Carrico was the emergency room-resident on duty that fateful day. Having Zac Efron portray this character was initially distracting because of his star wattage. However, Efron played it very cool despite his character not knowing fully what to do, and being drenched with presidential blood. Colin Hanks played the attending consultant Dr. Matthew Perry, though his screen presence paled beside Efron's. Marcia Gay Harden plays a methodical ER nurse.
James Hosty is an FBI agent who had been investigating about Lee Harvey Oswald prior to the assassination. However, unfortunately he never really thought Oswald could kill JFK. He was played by Ron Livingstone as this person wracked by guilt and conscience as his superiors do not disguise their dismay for his lack of foresight.
Robert Oswald is the brother of Lee Harvey who was ashamed about the role his brother played in American History. James Badge Dale played this character with his internal conflicts out on his sleeve. The Oswald matriarch Margeruite, though, was convincingly played by Jacki Weaver perfectly off - kilter.
The whole film, with its production design so meticulously faithful to that period, looked like a documentary the way it was handled by new director Peter Landesman. This approach may be considered dry or boring for people who are not familiar about these events or these personalities. But for history buffs, baby boomers and Gen X'ers, the novel point of view presented by this film about a very infamous historical incident is very interesting and absorbing. 7/10.