Parkland (PG-13)

Drama 92 October 4, 2013
By Pete Vonder Haar
Peter Landesman's well-intentioned but unfulfilling Parkland hints at the enormity of what took place on November 22, 1963, but largely confines itself to the immediate aftermath of the assassination. Based on prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's book Four Days in November, the film shifts between several perspectives: the doctors and nurses of Parkland Memorial, the FBI agents tracking the killer and the Secret Service men dealing with the fallout, dressmaker Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti), who shot the most famous home movie in history, and Oswald's brother (James Badge Dale) and mother (Jacki Weaver). Landesman eschews reenactments in favor of splicing his actors into archival footage, avoiding a documentary feel and keeping the focus on those chaotic hours just after the shooting. Reactions are confined to those directly involved, with the only indications of a widening gyre of grief and confusion coming from clips of the now-famous elegies of Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley. The most powerful scenes happen early on, when Kennedy is rushed to the hospital's emergency room. It's in the film's second half that Parkland goes all Tony Romo and fumbles. Instead of becoming truly engrossing, it threatens to descend into unreserved melodrama. The noblest character depicted is Bob Oswald, a hardworking and otherwise unremarkable man plunged into a surreal situation: brother to a presidential assassin. The cast doesn't always rise to the occasion. Dale, Giamatti, and Marcia Gay Harden (as Parkland's head nurse) are as convincing as can be, but it's a lot harder to sell an unshaven Zac Efron (as Dr. Jim Carrico) or baby-faced Colin Hanks (as Parkland's chief resident)—having his father as executive producer probably didn't hurt.
Peter Landesman Zac Efron, Tom Welling, James Badge Dale, Paul Giamatti, Jackie Earle Haley, Ron Livingston, Colin Hanks, Billy Bob Thornton, Mark Duplass, Austin Nichols Peter Landesman Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Matt Jackson, Bill Paxton, Nigel Sinclair Exclusive Releasing

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