Emilio Estevez has done a terrific job with Bobby
, a film that explores the lives of people who were at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles the day that Robert Kennedy won the California primary and was shot to death. Not only are the characters excellently fine-tuned but the script is brilliant in terms of timing and poignancy. The weaving of documentary footage with the dramatic interpretation of events has the feel of a near perfect match. We are spoiled by the so-called invisibility and seamlessness of digital technology so when the graininess of television archives is juxtaposed with film material it does no harm.
Memorable performances include the role of a hairdresser named Miriam played by Sharon Stone. I have never seen this woman more humble than in this role. Gone is the attitude and it makes you wonder why this kind of role wasn’t offered her rather than pigeon holing her solely into sex goddess vehicles. Gone is the femme fatale. Her hair is pulled back over a headband and she sports thick black false eyelashes. One of Miriam’s customers is a very active alcoholic, the vocalist Virginia Fallon played by Demi Moore who breaks into a pretty sassy "Louie Louie" on stage, while under the influence. This is also a challenging role for Moore who pulls it off with excellent timing and bravado.
Moore’s boyfriend Ashton Kutcher plays a dope head that sells LSD to young volunteers of the Kennedy campaign. What I find irritating in films that flashback is the use of music as background like an AM radio. Estevez fairly much avoids this pitfall and uses music as dramatic tension. One such incidence is when Kutcher and the Kennedy aids drop acid, set to Tuesday Afternoon by the Moody Blues
. There are also speeches by Robert Kennedy including a chilling treatise against violence. This final speech is set to Simon and Garfunkle's The Sounds of Silence
, an excellent choice for the final act and a torch blower for the 60’s.
Another memorable moment of Bobby
is when Laurence Fishburne chastises one of the kitchen employees for his anger. The dialogue is absolutely amazing and Fishburne's delivery makes it radiate. The issues that Robert Kennedy addressed are carefully illuminated in scenes like these, which bring back what the man stood for politically, a visionary that was cut down as was his brother John, and Martin Luther King Jr.
The only real life character in the film is played by Freddy Rodriquez, who we recognize as one of the undertakers from Six Feet Under
. He plays a kitchen worker who cradles Bobby Kennedy after he is shot, an image that is haunting from that fateful day. His boss Christian Slater does a great job as the bigoted head of the kitchen staff that doesn’t want to let employees take time off from work to vote. The vote that gave Bobby Kennedy his last victory.
© 2007 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 1/2007
USA - 2006