James Hosty: It’s a nice day for a motorcade.
I can fully understand why Americans would still be obsessed with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, even 50 years after that tragic November day. I can also understand how some people could be sick and tired of conspiracy theories surrounding that event involving book depositories and grassy knolls. That said, I cannot fully understand why former journalist turned film writer and director, Peter Landesman, has decided to tackle this story in his debut feature, PARKLAND, in the fashion that he has. By avoiding taking any stance on how the attack transpired or what kind of long standing impact it had on the country, he has crafted a pretty picture without much purpose.
Landesman takes a peculiar tangential approach to recreating that day. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like for the doctors who worked on Kennedy at the hospital before he died to be there for that moment or the burden that was felt by the man who shot the now famous 8mm footage of the assassination, then PARKLAND, named for the hospital in Dallas where Kennedy died, could provide you with some great details to fill in any blanks you may have had. After all, PARKLAND is nothing if not well acted by its vast ensemble, perhaps most notably by Paul Giamatti and Jacki Weaver. Personally, I did not find that any of these surrounding stories informed me at all about the story they center around so, no matter how strongly they were presented, they mostly just felt like filler.
Given Landesman’s background as a journalist, I’m going to presume that he did his homework when writing PARKLAND and that the moments that spark the most drama actually did take place. Still, as it all felt rather purposeless to me, I questioned whether the only real purpose at times was just to manipulate the audience.