Parkland (2013)

DailyView: Day 304, Movie 430

The second film I found free on YouTube after the late night browsing Thursday evening (morning?) was Parkland. It sounded the most intriguing of the films that I found on YouTube, and I was right. This was a compelling look at the events surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas in 1963.

While none of the characters involved received an in-depth development, several performances stood out to make the film work. The performances included Paul Giamatti as Abraham Zapruder, the man who filmed the assassination, Tom Welling as Roy Kellerman, the loyal secret service agent who would not take no for an answer, Billy Bob Thornton as Secret Service Agent Forrest Sorrels, Jacki Weaver as Marguerite Oswald, mother of Lee Harvey Oswald, Zac Efron as Dr. Charles “Jim” Carrico, the attending physician at Parkland Hospital, James Badge Dale as Robert Oswald, brother of Lee Harvey, David Harbour as J. Gordon Shanklin, head of Dallas branch of FBI, and Ron Livingston as FBI Agent James Hosty. These performances stood out on the film and helped overcome the flaws that were within the script or the characterization.

There were some truly intense scenes too. The scene of President Kennedy arriving at Parkland Hospital and the resulting efforts to save his life were both heartbreaking and harrowing. The removal of President Kennedy’s body from the hospital to Air Force One, despite laws of Dallas stating that the body could not be removed, was intense and really gave Tom Welling some material to work with.

Paul Giamatti gave such an amazing, understated performance in an over-the-top moment that it gave me a new respect for the talented actor. The pain of what he witnessed and the crushing guilt weighed upon Zapruder and Giamatti played that with nobility. It was a wonderful performance.

Perhaps if the film had not spread out the narrative to so many other perspectives, despite great performances by all, there would be more of an emotional depth outside of just the true story that this film reports. If the film focused in on Zac Efron’s character or Billy Bob Thornton’s character for more than what it did, the film would resonate more. As it is, I enjoyed the film, but it seemed as if there were four or five potential stories that could have sustained a longer look. Perhaps this would have worked better as a series than a just a feature length movie.

Still, the story was presented in the movie format, and this was compelling, even if it left me wanting for more. The acting was superb and the power of the moment in time that changed the course of the USA forever was a rich moment to mine.

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