As Parkland Hospital doctors, Colin Hanks and Zac Efron may surprise you with their performances.
DATELINE: MOVIE HISTORY
With the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John Kennedy, there have been a few minor movies to mark the occasion. Fictionalized film really is nowhere near as compelling as pseudo-documentaries on conspiracy theories.
Yet, this small film takes a look at the helpless doctors and nurses who came face to face with historical horror in their emergency room. It provides a new twist on an old tale that fewer and fewer people actually remember. We were in the Harvard Yards, eerily and unusually quiet when someone ran past us to say at 2pm the President was dead, shot. Like many others, we first disbelieved it.
Life in America was never the same after that moment.
Fifty years is a long time, and the generation that lived the experience and could tell truth from fiction may have soon lost their memories and their minds, unable to tell us whether movies like this can be taken seriously as history or art.
Parkland, starring Zac Efron as a young intern, rises to the challenge. The scenes all seem familiar, yet fresh too. These are the moments before camcorders were mounted everywhere to catch every private moment. You can easily forget that and believe what you see is 100% accurate.
The film becomes the ultimate History Channel re-enactment. It is emotional and depicts the anguish and shock felt by the doctors and nurses at Parkland. It details the personal suffering of Abraham Zapruder who filmed the moment of the murder. It displays the Secret Service and FBI agents who felt guilt they had failed to do their jobs.
This is a remarkable little film with Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Giamatti, and Marcia Gay Harden, giving extraordinary performances. Jacki Weaver plays Oswald’s nutcase mother with a vengeance, and James Badge Dale acts as Robert Oswald with understated dignity.
Mixed with archival footage, this behind-the-scenes drama compels and hypnotizes even if we know the overall outcome. Paul Landesman usually writes movies, but this is his first effort at directing. He has our attention.
For an interesting backstory on Lee Harvey Oswald’s youth, mother, and sibling, you may want to read BOOTH AND OSWALD that compares two assassins in their boyhoods from hell. Available on Amazon.com in softcover and ebook format.