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August 24, 2010

Bobby (2006)
Director: Emilio Estevez
Actors: William H. Macy, Anthony Hopkins, Freddy Rodriguez

Bobby_070307043042200_wideweb__300x200.jpg (300×200)

Synopsis: The lives of a diverse bunch of people in the hours leading up to Robert Kennedy’s assassination.

Review: Although undoubtedly a flawed piece of work – with the strived-for grand narrative framework seeming more patchy than sophisticated – some credit must be given to the project’s scope and ambition.

The conceit of having a ‘state of the nation’ construct as filtered through the lives of a myriad group of individuals stationed at the Ambassadors Hotel, LA on the night of Robert Kennedy’s assassination, is riddled with logistical problems that writer-director Emilio Estevez struggles to overcome. He encumbers himself with too many players and subplots leading to a lot of facile narrative exposition. Some of the sequences simply do not work, such as the awkward civil rights argument in the kitchen involving black chef Laurence Fishburne and Mexican waiters Freddy Rodriguez and Nelson Vargas. Equally misplaced is the obligatory Hippy/LSD sequence involving the two student volunteers who neglect their last-minute campaigning duties for some risqué pill-popping. It would be disingenuous though not to mention the positive flipside of the sometime flaky storytelling: a lot of the subplots are subtly written and gamely acted, there is a nice sense of an accumulating unitary ‘spirit’ to the narrative thanks to the clever editing and roving camerawork, and even though the ending that brings together Kennedy’s assassination and the minor characters is slightly overwrought and maudlin, it does emblematise Estevez’s noble intentions of linking the personal to the political – and that is no mean feat. (March 2008)

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