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USA 2013
Directed by
Peter Landesman
93 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


Although given our familiarity with the J.F.K  assassination from many documentaries, not to mention Oliver Stone’s film you have to wonder why anyone thought we needed another film on the topic, Parkland, manages to introduce some new, if admittedly minor details. Who for instance knew that Lee Harvey Oswald had a brother, that the Dallas Coroner fought with the F.B.I over jurisdiction of the President’s body, arguing that it was a case of homicide, or that the Secret Service had to cut a large entrance to Air Force One in order to get Kennedy’s coffin aboard?

Drawing on Vincent Bugliosi’s book “Four Days in November: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy” the title refers to Dallas' Parkland Hospital the main locus of events as first Kennedy, then Oswald are brought into emergency. Writer-director Peter Landesman portrays the medical staff (a much weightier-looking Zac Efron plays a registrar and Marcia Gay Harden, a motherly head nurse) as they struggle valiantly to save the two men's lives. Attention is also paid to Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti) who was deeply affected by having recorded what he, like the Dallas coroner, considered to be a murder. The F.B.I. also get some profiling as the film looks some of the collateral damage that came with such a spectacular failure to protect the President. 

Although it offers no advance on the current state of speculation on Kennedy’s assassination Parkland is an intriguingly modest little film that captures the insanity of those few days in November 1962 impressively. As a period piece it’s well done (although Paul Giamatti and Billy Bob Thornton look particularly uncomfortable with their pork pie hats) and the cast, which includes Jackie Waver as Oswald’s nutty mother is one of those surprisingly good ones that sometimes pop up in small films whose makers are able to pull in favours (Bill Paxton and Tom Hanks were amongst the producers).

Available from: Village Roadshow




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