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Directed by Emilio Estevez Bobby is a homage to the legendary political figure Robert Kennedy whose life was abruptly ended at the hands of an assassin in 1968 while in the kitchen of a hotel in Los Angeles.
It is a clever movie as it focuses on the 77 people who were in the kitchen at the time and gives a view of his life through the way in which he impacted on certain indicviduals in the room at the time. They area mixture of guests and hotel staff as well as those associated directly with the President. It is a work of fiction but that does not detract from the quality, you do not have to feel like you are being deceived as the film never claimed to be a true account, the characters are made up but designed to represent the cross section of people involved on that fateful night.
One of the most amazing things about this film is the cast reads like a Hollywood A list and also a few representatives from the B, C and D list (Ashton Kutcher) as well, Lawrence Fishburne, Anthony Hopkins, Heather Graham, Elijah Wood, William H Macy, Sharon Stone, the list is endless each with relatively small parts.
There are some nice themes that run through this film and it represents a wonderful snapshot of life in 1968 USA, with the Vietnam war isn full swing and young men trying to dodge the draft and there is a good scene where the racist restaurant manager tries to stop the mostly Mexican workers from voting in the election which contrasts nicely with Kennedy anti racist policies.
This is an intelligent and enjoyable film and one that I really do recommend seeing. It is available on Amazon for £4.99 which is a great price.
As something of a political anorak, I was looking forward to watching Bobby.
However Bobby is more than just a political film - it is a soap opera of the life and times of the people of late 60s America.
The script is phenomenal and the acting is first-class, as you would expect from a stellar cast that includes Anthony Hopkins, Martin Sheen, Sharon Stone, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Elijah Wood... The list of top actors goes on and on. Even Lindsay Lohan proves she can hold a role with distinction.
The film tackles everything from drugs to racial discrimination, and leaves you wondering where the world would be, had Bobby Kennedy not been assassinated.
Critics will say that with so many characters and so many stories, there is too much detachment, not enough closeness to warm to those involved. These critics are probably right, but the intensity of the direction, the tight dialogue in the scriptwriting and the fantastic audio production more than make up for it.
Bobby is a movie that has got something for anyone willing to watch it with an open mind, even if those who aren't political anoraks. Give it a chance.
Emilio Estevez has come a long way. He's not only written and directed Bobby, he's also roped in a drillion stars to be in it. We've got, among others, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Hunt, Laurence Fishburne, Heather Graham, Joshua Jackson, Lindsey Lohan, William H. Macy, Demi Moore, (deep breath), Martin Sheen, Christian Slater, Sharon Stone, Elijah Wood. Basically I could write an entire review just listing the cast, but that isn't overly interesting so I'll stop.
With such an ensemble you run the risk of a "Me! Me! No, me!" effect, with a dozen egos battling for attention. And though everyone gets a turn to do a spot of acting, Emilio keeps them all in check so we get good performances rather than "anything you can act, I can act better" stand-offs. The first few minutes of the film are taken up with thoughts along the lines of 'there's whats-his-face, is that one Stone? There's the hobbit, it's Pacey from Dawson's Creek!' But after the novelty factor of star spotting subsides, what are you left with?
Well, the film focuses in on the inhabitants of the Ambassador Hotel on June 6th, 1968 - the day that Robert F. Kennedy was killed. We get to dip in and out of various lives, be they kitchen staff, switchboard girls, managers, hotel guests or people working on Kennedy's election team. With so many characters it's impossible to get an in-depth view into their lives, but ultimately they serve only to bring up some whoppingly relevant issues.
This is 60's America suffering from violence, racism, poverty, environmental issues and a war with obscure reasons causing the deaths of thousands. Um, familiar-much? Kennedy was cited as the solution to many of these problems, and his death packs an unpleasant punch when you look at the state of the world today.
But float away from the political and there are some other neat little ideas going on. Our celebrity-obsessed nation is mirrored perfectly. We've got a drunkard famous singer talking to her dowdy hairdresser about the short shelf-life of women. Who's playing them? Demi Moore and Sharon Stone, who are both superb, and both in their forties. They could've written that piece themselves no doubt. There's also Helen Hunt obsessing over her appearance, stressing that her shoes aren't right and people are going to notice. I couldn't help but think of the "circle of shame" in crappy celebrity magazines. By using such a well-known cast, these thoughts are given more resonance. Clever Emilio.
There are a few moments where Bobby wavers dangerously into Crash "oh look at me pointing out things really obvious I'm so clever and brilliant and lazy" territory, and perhaps there are one too many monologues or touching moments involving bloody sports (hurray my team's winning, my entire life troubles are now solved as I smile gleefully like the simple sports-fan that I am). There's also an unnecessary acid-trip with Ashton Kutcher that is almost embarrassingly trite.
But Bobby washes over all the flaws with its final act, building into an emotional and affecting finish, and a clever mix of footage from past and present. The risk with multiple-character plots is the loss of real empathy with the characters because there're too many, but Bobby pulls it off by combining everything into a thought-provoking issue-riddled collage.
I had not heard too much about this film, and to be honest that worried me, but i thought that the ammout of stars which were in it meant that i should watch it anyway, as surely they all wouldnt sign up for the film if they didnt think it was very good!
Well imagine my suprise when nothing happened until he gets shot (i am fairly sure i am not spoiling this for anyone!). This is a dreary, boring, uneventful and such a nothing film. How this got made, and so many stars were in it is beyond me.
Let me just help you ll understand how bad this film is - when i asked my girlfriend, and her sister, who i was watching it with, if i could pause it to watch match of the day (which they both hate) they said ok.
The film is basically what lots of other people were doing on the day that Robert Kenedy was shot, which sounds ok, but then you realise that it has no purpose to the film really, apart from the guy who was cmampaigning for him. So instead of getting one story line which is interesting, we get 5 or 6 which have no substance, no interest and no thought put into them. They all have a slight connection with 'Bobby' but nothing really.
Stay away from this film. It is terrible.
Roll back 40 years and America is in pretty much the same state its in right now, uncertain economy with unemployment and racial tensions high, an unpopular war and an unpopular president, Some other people have said it but there are some serious tangents between Bobby Kennedy and Barak Obama, young, refreshing and idealistic. I think things have come along quite some way since then and I don't think Barak will be at the mercy of an assassins bullet, but its food for thought.
As for the Movie, Bobby is very well done, a little reminiscent of Robert Altman's Nashville in style but its set to a good soundtrack with some solid performances from its all star cast, I like the fact that they didn't use an actor for Bobby Kennedy and instead used archived footage and clever camera work to make you believe he is an actual part of the movie, this movie is all about the ( Fictional ) lives of a group of people around the Ambassador hotel that fateful night and their experiences of the night. The Obvious and impending Assassination really only accounts for a small part of the movie and you know its coming but its how it gets there that is the real genius of the movie, you almost feel like they actually will leave the assassination out of the movie and just concentrate on the storylines.
It can get a little drawn out in places and some more explanation of the characters could be used but overall a very good well structured movie with some impressive acting and just the right amount of emotion to convey the event.
This won't change your life, but it is certainly worth a watch and for anyone who is interested in the state of the US at the moment the events are a real eye opener
We Want Bobby
Robert 'Bobby' Kennedy is a man who lived and died in the shadow of his brother John. Many films have been made about Johns life and his assassination, perhaps most notably the controversial JFK by Oliver Stone. So Bobby is here to try to redress the balance of the man who many thought would be the next American President and their savior.
I was surprised when the end titles came up and said directed by Emilio Estevez, then suddenly everything made sense. I was wondering how so many A list stars ended up having small parts in this film and Martin Sheen and Emilio together on screen. If you like star spotting then this is the film for you. Harry Belafonte looks good for an 80 year old.
The film does not have an actor portraying Bobby himself, the film cuts to archive footage of the man, it instead centres around the people who work at the Ambassador hotel and the people running his campaign.
I had high hopes for this film, it has an all star cast and there must surely be a lot to tell about Bobby Kennedy. However I came away feeling disappointed. I have learned nothing about the man I didn't already know. Perhaps it should have been more clearly stated that this is not a biopic about the man himself but more a reflection of the turbulent times that he lived in. There is no information about the assassin or his motivation. He just appears at the end and shoots, end of story.
The characters in the film are fictional, the film switches between their mostly unrelated stories, it's hard to care about any of them. The dialogue is far too scripted and contrived and comes across as very forced.
It would have perhaps been better if the film was a bit like Roger Donaldson's Thirteen Days that goes into much more detail about the history of the time rather than just showing the lives of a bunch of fictional characters in an attempt to portray the mood of the American nation in the 60s. It's being too self important and preachy.
The direction is also a bit flat, it doesn't draw you in and the drug trip looks like it was copied straight from an Oliver Stone film. Emilio needs to work on his own style. The film lacks tension.
The best part of the film was the ending, I expected it to be a cop out but it stayed true and showed the assassination (I don't think I'm giving away the ending there after all we all knew the ship would sink in Titanic).
To sum up, I was expecting a film about Bobby Kennedy and got a film about a bunch of fictional people who happen to be in the Ambassador hotel when he is assassinated. It's over sentimental. If I wanted to know about the emotions and problems of the people at that time I would have looked elsewhere. Like the people in the film, I wanted Bobby and didn't get him.
Main Cast List
Emilio Estevez - Tim Fallon
Anthony Hopkins - John Casey
Laurence Fishburne - Edward Robinson
Harry Belafonte - Nelson
Helen Hunt - Samantha
Directed By : Emilio Estevez
Running Time : 120 Mins.
I don't think there could be a more appropriate film to see right now than Bobby' as the Democratic Party nomination race (with the emphasis on race) hots up and the U.S election nears. Barak Obama may not think he is Bobby Kennedy but my word he is acting like him. And if I was Barak I would be watching my back right now as lot of people in America would like to see him fail, maybe even catching a slug or two like Robert F Kennedy did in on that fateful Los Angeles night in the famous Ambassador Hotel back in 1968, a little understood event and trauma for people outside of the United States.
The idea of the film 'Bobby', according to occasional director Emilio Estevez (only his fourth movie in 30 years) comments in the extras, is to make a fictional requiem, if you like, a tribute to Robert F Kennedy through the eyes of the 77 people known to be in the kitchen at the time of the shooting, creating vignettes and cameos for some of the cross section of staff and guests on that day who witness the assignation. Although they were made-up characters by Estevez's pen they represent the type of people who were there that June 5th night and the idea does indeed make for an interesting concept in this thoughtful and poignant movie, let alone you the viewer being dazzled by the stellar acting cast on show, most definitely the who's who of Hollywood in 2007, although without the element of conspiracy and intrigue to the movie it didn't quite push for Oscars.
Harry Belafonte ... Nelson
Joy Bryant ... Patricia
Nick Cannon ... Dwayne
Emilio Estevez ... Tim Fallon
Laurence Fishburne ... Edward Robinson
Brian Geraghty ... Jimmy
Heather Graham ... Angela
Anthony Hopkins ... John Casey
Helen Hunt ... Samantha Stevens
Joshua Jackson ... Wade Buckley
David Krumholtz ... Agent Phil
Ashton Kutcher ... Fisher
Shia LaBeouf ... Cooper
Lindsay Lohan ... Diane
William H. Macy ... Paul Ebbers
Svetlana Metkina ... Lenka Janacek
Demi Moore ... Virginia Fallon
Freddy Rodríguez ... Jose Rojas
Martin Sheen ... Jack Stevens
Christian Slater ... Daryl Timmons
Sharon Stone ... Miriam Ebbers
Jacob Vargas ... Miguel
Mary Elizabeth Winstead ... Susan Taylor
Elijah Wood ... William Avary
After some opening scene setting authentic newsreel images of the time on what the political climate was like back in 1960s America-Vietnam, of course, the concurrent theme-the camera sweeps through the big oak doors of the famous Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles to a feverish buzz of expectation of the arrival of Senator John F Kennedy. The lobby is awash with rich older men and younger beautiful wives enjoying their husband's wealth and influence in the social whirl, socialites Jack and Samantha Stevens (Martin Sheen & Helen Hunt) an example of, ready to give generously to the charismatic senator's campaign. From then on in it's a supernova of stars exploding on screen as the guests and staff prepare for Bobby Kennedy's arrival at the evenings political fund-raiser in the grand ballroom, Checz journalist Lenka Janacek (Svetlana Metkina), desperate for her five minutes with the bedazzling senator, emphasizing the world wide appeal of this guy and the moment.
In the bowels of the hotel kitchen, general manager Paul Ebbers (William H Macey) has reached his wits ends with his bigoted catering manager Daryl Timmons (Christian Slater), giving him his notice for not letting the predominately Mexican catering staff vote on election night, Daryl's reasoning being they are all illiterate illegal immigrants anyway so why bother when its so busy, the irony not lost on Ebbers with it being Kennedy's core policy to tackle this discrimination in his speech tonight. It's a racial cauldron in there, black and brown tensions simmering like the steaming pots and baking ovens, Daryl not exactly helping to bring about the new America John F Kennedy is promising in his exhilarating rallies.
John Casey (Anthony Hopkins, with that silly Irish ascent from Fracture) and Nelson (Harry Belafonte) play the retired versions of the above pair, milling around in the lobby for one last special occasion to oversea their replacements final test. The cabaret for the night is singing sensation Virginia Fallon (Demi Moore) is getting drunk very quickly to kill her nerves, much to the exasperation of her husband and manger Tim (Emilio Estevez), who hopes the sassy hotel beautician (Sharon Stone)-and wife of Ebbers-can sober her up with some girl talk and a make-over. Miriam's (Stone) duties also involve preparing young brides for the hotels regular weddings in the other function rooms, Diane (Lindsay Lohan) next up in the chair for big hair and nails, she marrying Will (Elijah Wood), a sham wedding to help him to avoid the draft to Vietnam, a common practice back then by the educated classes to avoid the pointless cull of young men abroad.
Back in the kitchen and waiter Jose (Fredrick Rodríguez) has snared two tickets for the big Dodgers baseball game, but can't get the night off as everyone has to do the double-shift at short- notice, wise old sous-chef Eddie (Lawrence Fishburne) a calming, righteous shoulder to lean on as the racial tensions continue to swirl around the hot ovens on the 16 hour shift, angry with the world Miguel (Jacob Vargas), José's best friend, not so easy around Africa American men as Jose is. Eddie has learnt how to play the white mans game and is going to the game tonight.
As the Kennedy entourage nears, the Democratic Party workers are assigned their districts in the city for one last push on voting day, Cooper (Shia Lebouf) and David (Spencer Garrett), deciding some weed would be appropriate to calm their nerves as they are dispatched to a tough black district by African American hot-shot campaign supervisor Dwayne Harris (Nick Cannon). But they get side tracked and local hippy Fisher (Ashton Kutcher) persuades them to drop acid instead and so that's them for the day.
But as the evening event nears its left to campaign manager Wade Buckley (Joshua Jackson) to hold it all together, knowing all to well what history can serve up as the security cordon tightens around Kennedy (himself through archive footage) as he breezes into the lobby, the killer lurking among the 77, the tension unbearable for the final climax...
-The politics of the time-
People ask me why I add my personal thoughts and politics into film reviews and I say that's the point of watching this type of film, the director trying to get your mind to react to scenes in the film from your opinion. If you don't react then the film isn't working. If I go on about the politics of the movie in the review then it's working...
Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy's (known as Bobby so no to clash with his superior brother in Americans eyes) biggest problem back in 68, like Barak Obamas right now, was to get people that were not of his skin color and social class to vote for him in big numbers. With the Latinos of both parties uniformly voting against black candidates throughout America's racial history, and vice-versa, Bobby had to go out to the blue-collar workers of all ethnicity and earn their vote with his unifying promises and the Kennedy legacy....you can still have JFK with RFK..
On average, 50% of black males in the United States of working age are unable to vote because they have a criminal conviction (as high as 62% in Alabama); and with similar ratios in the Hispanic community- illegal immigration levels adding to it-this movie uses those core themes of the social and racial pecking-order within the hotel staff as a metaphor for 60s America, the central point being that Bobby was going to take them all to the promised land and mend this racially divided society, those same racial fault lines sure to be exposed once again come November in the pollster's databases that deny Barak the Whitehouse. The working and so voting black Americans may well have conservative values and effectively vote against the other 50%, handing McCain the Whitehouse. With Hilary skillfully hovering up the women's vote I just can't see how America's first black president elect can happen. Norman Mailer wrote that 'white Americans need to feel that they are not being made to vote for someone', and so for a black guy to win they have to feel they are voting against the other candidate to take that fear and taboo away.
Robert F, on the other hand, although white, had pretty much every democratic voter onside in 68, enjoying massive support from the blacks, Latinos, gays, female voters...you name it...nailed on to take the presidency as the handsome and genial senator was mobbed like a rock star during his campaign to be the democratic candidate, just five short years after his brother was cruelly gunned down in Texas. But it was never to be for Bobby, a disillusioned Palestinian national shooting him in the head twice from very close range in the hotel pantry, claiming Americas growing pro-Israeli alliance the reason why. Some say that crazy act all those years ago is why America is so strong with Israel today in the region. Richard Nixon moved in and Vietnam raged on and that was the end of the 'American Dream'. The 60s was a turbulent time there as other great political leaders of the decade met the same fete, Martin Luther King the most prominent to fall with the Kennedy brothers. "Mailer described the time as: "like having the rug pulled from under the new Americas feet".
What you will like about his movie is it keeps it simple and concise, not an intellectual movie in any way but still smart and thoughtful enough to invite you in through those big oak doors. If it had tried to do a Magnolia then I sure it would have got more of an Oscar buzz and unseated the likes of the dreary 'Babel' in the Oscar stakes that the Academy seem to like these days, and like tonight at the Kodak theatre as the rain lashes down , there are more stars packed into this than your can imagine and it shows the respect America has for the Kennedy legacy, many of the actors taking the minimal actors guild wage for this to support Estevez's dream, Helen Hunt only turning up the night before after someone dropped out, filming her bit without even seeing her lines she was that keen. It was also great to see two of Hollywood's biggest divas in Sharon Stone and Demi Moore going at it on screen and Hopkins not playing that super smart guy in jail for once. I particularly like watching William H Macey on screen and Hopkins admits in the extras that he rates this guy big time. No one does quiet desperation like Will Macey.
It's clearly a labor of love for Estevez of the Sheen clan, taking seven long years to get from script to film; his writers block so bad the Ambassador was nearly knocked down during filming in 2006. 36 hours after the final external shots the bulldozers moved in. He also had to sell a lot of his artwork and a Hollywood Hills house to help fund the big budget short fall.
With authentic music and costume of the time and the constant theme of that simmering racial order explored, this movie is obviously more important to Americans than to us, but I do think it's beautifully made and one of the more worthy movies of last year. The fact we dot really tackle the killer and the politics of that was a little disappointing for me but you have to admire Estevez for taking on such a bold project when he has no real track record in directing, his previous three movies straight-to-video to say the least. Hands up who even knew Emilio Estevez directed movies?
Imdb.com scores it 7:3 out of 10:0 (13,588)
= = = = = = Special Features = = = = = =
- 'BOBBY': The making of an American Epic-
Straight forward behind the scenes stuff as Estevez explains his reasoning and methods behind his movie and why the mega cast.
- Eyewitness accounts from the Ambassador Hotel-
A hugely irritating five minute slot that doesn't do what it says on the lid. I was expecting some of the real people from the hotel to have their say but instead it's more of the above. I suspect the writer and director had run out of cash by now.
= = = = = = = = = = =
RuN TiMe 100 minutes
Now in the 3 for £7 weekly deal at Blockbusters...
= = = = ==
The problem with this for me, is that i am not American. Oddly enough i thought that the film was all about John Kennedy and not Robert, who i had not actually heard off. I only realised this at the end of the film with the shooting. This meant i was a little lost throughout the film, but i was able to watch it without knowing what would happen at the end.
To start with the story is many different tails of people who have some connection or other with the Kennedy campaign. It has a huge cast featuring the likes of Hopkins, Sharon Stone and Demi Moore. I found that this neither helped or hindered the film. To me it wouldn't have made any difference if it was filmed with people i do not know. The way it is set out is all rather complicated, and i found it a struggle to keep up with the significance of each character. There was a lot of American patriotism with i cannot connect with, being British and which i can find ruins some films.
In the end i found it watchable, but not that enjoyable as it was very much one for the Americans, and there is little to offer to those outside.
Do NOT let this film slip through your viewing net! If the cast is not enough of an incentive, Anthony Hopkins, Sharon Stone, Demi Moore, Christian Slater etc then the film more than makes up for it.
Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in the Ambassador Hotel on June 5th 1968, he had just won the California Primary and was being led through the kitchens of the hotel when he was shot. Although he was supposedly shot by a lone gunman (as was JFK) there has since been reports that Bobby was shot from behind and could not have been killed by the gunman alone.
Although the film shows actual footage of Bobby and does not have an actor that plays him the film really centres around the people in the hotel that night and their lives. There are quite some moving moments with Anthony Hopkins and Sharon Stone and the scene where Bobby does get shot is the actual Bobby Kennedy which makes it quite sad.
A very moving film and if you liked JFK you will enjoy this one.
The year is 1968 and America is in political and social turmoil; Martin Luther Kings assassination in April has sent the civil rights movement reeling and the effects of John F Kennedys shooting five years earlier can still be seen. His younger brother Robert, an anti racist campaigner and electoral candidate, is emerging as one of the most prominent and liked politicians of the time. His views (mainly his anti Vietnam agenda) seemed to have sparked peoples attentions and he is all but guaranteed the presidential seat. On June the 4th Bobby wins the Californian vote by a huge majority and as a result hosts a conference for his supporters at the Ambassador Hotel. That is where he is assassinated. Bobby tells the story of 22 separate characters staying at the hotel, how the countrys political climate effects them and how the assassination of Robert Kennedy affects and changes their lives.
Bobby shouldnt work, and very nearly doesnt; its too scattered, lacks a good structure, the writing falls into the preachy and the actors star power far outweighs what their given to work with. And yet, against alot of odds and despite a rush of flaws, it succeeds rather spectacularly in being one of the most devastating and moving pieces of cinema to come along in a while. Its a patchwork of loss, love and shattered dreams that ties a dozen or so intimate stories into one large whole and shows how an overwhelming historical event affects different peoples lives. With its snap shots of true drama it becomes truly affecting and the scripts ability to make you care about so many characters is extraordinary; it takes their emotions and shines a light on them, pulling the poignancy of their stories out with full force and clashing them to make a firework of tragedy and redemption. Although blind sighted by admiration for Robert Kennedy (which makes some of the film a little, well alot, one dimensional), it excellently throws up hundreds of what ifs and uses his truly inspirational speeches to body blow you into feeling Americas loss when he was assassinated. Bobbys not always as good as it could be, but it beats the hell out of most movies of late.
The thing which is Bobbys saving grace is the screenplays wonderful characterizations; we are engaged in the characters, despite their short screen times, and they are all cleverly created to show different aspects of everyones personality which makes them feel like an extension of ourselves, which makes their journeys much more affecting. However, that doesnt mean that all the characters are successful; Helen Hunts whiny rich wife is nothing but annoying and adds nothing to the proceedings, Heather Grahams adulteress telephone receptionist is nothing but a paper-thin plot devise as is Ashton Kutchers drug dealing Fisher. Luckily, for every one character that fails there are three that are wholly triumphant, these are the ones that have something genuinely interesting to say, have moving stories and find redemption/happiness/faith or just a resolution to their story arc. The best example of this is Sharon Stones Miriam; a fading beauty who tries to cover it up by slapping on makeup and ratting her hair up to an impressive Buffon, a loving wife whose husband is cheating and a wholly compassionate friend without any true companions whose life is turned upside down as she is forced to reassess her whole life. She is a naked, raw, interesting character who Estevezs script develops incredibly, giving her incredible poignancy and an amazing emotional crescendo.
Bobbys incredible ensemble cast (it really is like a whos who of Hollywood power players) do their upmost with their short running times. Demi Moore puts in the best performance of her career as a manic, drug addicted, alcoholic starlet whose world is unravelling as her addictions become more and more dominating. Raw, hypnotic and very, very sad she really gives it her all and mines her screen-time for all its worth without feeling over wrought or chewing the scenery up.... her chemistry with Emilio Estevez is palpable and engaging which makes the storys eventual resolution even more heart-breaking. Nick Cannon of MTV fame is surprisingly brilliant as Dwayne, a young black campaigner whose desire for America to change is dashed by the struggles, prejudices and eventual heart-ache of the campaign trail. He puts in a complex and moving performance which makes his flimsy character much more memorable. Harry Belafonte shows why he is one of the most beloved actors of his generation with a brief but emotional performance as a retiree whose memory (and body) is beginning to fail him and Anthony Hopkins is equally brilliant. Lindsey Lohan shows that she is a subtle and genuinely talented actress as Diane, a young woman who agrees to marry a boy to stop him going to the front lines. But without doubt the movie belongs to Miss Stone, putting in a pitch perfect performance of extraordinary depth, gravitas and power.
The main problem with Bobby is that lacks any kind of subtlety; the audience is told how to feel and many plot developments are sign posted in the first ten minutes, and as a result Estevezs direction feels a little ham fisted. He instils no ambiguity to the characters or the films premise and there is little room for interpretation; Robert Kennedy would have made America the perfect place and would have solved all world problems and thats that. Estevez doesnt give the film a solid structure so the characters stories are not so much weaved together as smashed and he frequently cuts the characters off when they are at their most compelling. Most jarring of all is the wildly uneven manner in which he direct, he swings haphazardly from silly to serious without second thought for pacing or continuity. However thats not always true; there is a scene between William H Macy and Sharon Stone which is incredibly directed with intensity and maturity and the way in which he deals with Demi Moores drunken starlet is truly excellent. And maybe thats the most infuriating thing of all; Estevez shows glimpses of being an exceptional director but he never quite pulls it all together, he never quite makes the leap from good to great and as a result the film does suffer.
Bobby is surprisingly technically accomplished; the final few sequences are stunningly orchestrated (fusing together old footage from the election campaign and Estevezs characters and sets) and its all rather well played out. It looks excellent, the Hotel is brilliantly recreated (on the DVD there is a fascinating featurette about the Ambassador) and the style and feel of the movie seem very accurate for the time in which it is set. I liked the fact that the camera is quite free moving which gives a sense of pace which the script so sadly lacks and a scene involving an LSD trip is frivolous (and a little bizarre) but brilliantly pictured and deploys some excellent and quite startling GGI effects.
The production finally becomes all that it can be in the final sequence; the aftermath of Kennedys assassination, played under a deeply moving a stirring speech made by him. It truly is a body blow and gives all the actors the scope and material needed to truly tug at your heart strings. Kennedys slow meditative tone whilst talking about peace and equality gives the finale a huge amount of resonance and makes Estevezs naive and non cynical attitude seem truly endearing. It is deeply sad and raises hundreds of questions; Bobby was undoubtedly going to win the presidential seat, but could he have changed anything? How different would our world be now if he had won? The films polemic is one that is just as prevalent today and one could argue that that is the films agenda; maybe we need another Bobby, someone who is prepared and able to stand up for what they believe in regardless of the eventual consequences. It truly is a fitting tribute, which makes the quality of the film suffer, but ultimately allows you to appreciate the sincerity, good intentions and heart-on-his-sleave sensibility that Estevez brings to the plate..
Your enjoyment of Bobby will rest almost entirely on your ability to accept its rather one dimensional view of world politics, if you can then youll probably be impressed. Despite pacing problems and a few missteps by the director it is a moving, sumptuously acted and at times incredibly written piece of drama, with something that should appeal to everyone and one of the saddest final sequences in recent cinema. Highly recommended.
June 1968 and America is in political and social turmoil. Martin Luther King was assassinated two months earlier, dashing the hopes of Americas ethnic minorities. The country is embroiled in an increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam and the government finds itself under constant pressure to withdraw. One of the staunchest opponents is Senator Robert F Kennedy (affectionately known to the people as Bobby). Bobby stands for everything that the American people need to believe in.
On June 6th, Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel becomes the focus of Bobbys election campaign, as he fights against Eugene McCarthy in the critical California primary. As the hotel staff prepare for the night ahead, Bobbys election campaign team go out across the city to spread the word. Residents of the hotel prepare to greet the senator and hopes are high that he can win the election.
Bobby tells the story of that day.
Directed by brat pack actor Emilio Estevez, Bobby is an ambitious and exhaustive piece of filmmaking with one of the most impressive ensemble casts you could ever hope to assemble. The cast list of the film reads like a Whos Who of Hollywoods most famous actors and it is credit to Estevez that his film remains dominated by the most important character Robert F Kennedy. Estevezs approach to the tale is a labour of love. The script was years in the writing; the film has been years in the making. Its pretty clear from the finished product that this is a film of which Estevez and co are extremely proud, and to an extent, rightfully so.
In an attempt to help modern audiences appreciate a little more about the USA of 1968, Bobby is told via the experiences and lives of 22 people, all of whom are gathered in the Ambassador hotel on that fateful day. Bobbys election campaign team features a collection of ambitious young people, some more desperate for change than others. A neurotic woman and her husband, guests at the hotel for that night, seem to represent the anxiety and uncertainty of the American people. A foul-mouthed, alcoholic nightclub singer feels the desperation and disillusionment shared by the populace. A Mexican kitchen worker is crestfallen at the knowledge that he must work a double shift, reinforcing the fact that he has virtually no rights. A young man and his best friend prepare to marry, such that he will not be forced to serve in Vietnam. A retired hotel worker reminisces on the greatness of the Ambassador Hotel, longing for a return to days gone by. The hotel manager is having an affair with one of the telephone receptionists, locking horns with the kitchen manager, and running the risk that his affair will become public knowledge. Most of these characters lives (and stories) inevitably (and sometimes tragically) interact but amidst these many stories, Estevez intersperses real footage of Bobby electioneering or real news footage of the day.
It sounds like a fairly complicated mix, but unlike other films of this nature (21 Grams, Babel, Crash) Estevez works in a simple and clear direction. The back stories are purposeful. They are intended to demonstrate 1960s America and set the scene for the public feeling surrounding the election campaign. Bobby Kennedy was immensely important to the American public; he promised incredible change at a time when people really needed something to believe in. The characters and back stories of Bobby go some way to explain why this was the case. Estevezs approach is generally effective, although there is certainly room for improvement. The affair between Paul, the hotel manager, and Angela, the hotel receptionist seems pointless given that extra-marital relationships were certainly not unique to the era. Ashton Kutchers role as hippie, drug-dealer Fisher is criticised for frivolity but actually felt more relevant to the proceedings to me.
The powerful subject matter seems to ignite actors and actresses who previously seemed to have burnt out. Demi Moores portrayal of fallen nightclub singer Virginia Fallon is almost unrecognisable and Sharon Stone reminds me of what she was capable of before she accepted every dodgy script this side of Basic Instinct 3. Laurence Fishburnes turn as an inspiring kitchen worker is warm and affectionate. Even Joshua Jackson, normally relegated to cheap teen horror movies seems to find inspiration here and is on cracking form as Bobbys election manager. Anthony Hopkins remains consistent as a gentle, retired hotel worker who seems lost in life; his opportunity to greet Bobby at the hotels main entrance is one of the more endearing moments in the movie. Lindsay Lohan sobers up long enough to work surprisingly well as teen bride Diane and Elijah Wood accurately conveys the nervous innocence of a young man otherwise doomed to go to a terrible conflict.
The build up to Bobbys assassination is very moving. As the characters gather together in the main ball room, Estevez cuts footage of Bobbys actual appearance with dramatised events, but somehow manages to make the two pieces fit together almost perfectly. The effect on the audience is quite remarkable. Inspired by the emotional energy on the screen, the audience always has the insider knowledge of what is about to happen, and as Bobby is led away through the kitchens, I found myself trembling in a nervous, cold sweat. The imminent demise of one man suddenly meant a lot more than the death of a character in a film.
Surprisingly, Bobby doesnt offer much in the way of information about Bobbys death. We never learn who assassinated the senator, or why he was assassinated. (He was, in fact, assassinated by a 24 year-old Palestinian man, who felt personally betrayed by Kennedy for the 1967 six-day war in Israel. He remains in prison to this day.) A more significant criticism might be the enormity of the films scope. Arguably, Estevezs story features rather too many characters and would have benefited from being stripped down (the two-hour running time starts to wear a little towards the middle). For me though, it would be Estevezs excessive usage of real footage of Bobby that was the least effective part of the film. A rousing speech on violence, played hauntingly at the films climax to offset the actual events, is drawn out and loses much of its impact because it goes on too long. I wonder also if Estevez took the easy option by deciding not to try and find an actor to play Kennedy more substantially. Perhaps he was concerned that this would detract from the political messages?
Nonetheless, the finished product is unquestionably impressive and moving. Estevez accurately captures the mood of the day and transcribes it for a modern audience. With so many political themes resonating around todays political world, it is also a troubling tale of just how little has changed.
In the final quarter or so of Bobby, writer-director-actor Emilio Estevez finally starts tightening his grip on the viewer as we head inexorably toward the film's climax: the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in a Los Angeles hotel kitchen. In the course of these scenes--among them Kennedy's acceptance speech after winning the California Democratic presidential primary (the senator is seen only in file footage), his death at the hands of gunman Sirhan Sirhan, and the chaos and despair that ensued--Estevez steadily ratchets up the sense of tension and dread. Knowing exactly what's coming, while the characters onscreen don't, is excruciating, as is our grief at hearing RFK's own words, so eloquent, so hopeful and inspiring, as we watch the horrible events unfold and wonder what might have been (sure it's manipulative--but it works). But the rest of Bobby isn't nearly as compelling. Nor is it really about Kennedy, despite its obvious adulation of the man whom many thought would defeat Richard Nixon in the '68 general election. In the tradition of, say, an Irwin Allen disaster flick, we're invited into the lives of nearly two dozen folks, most of them at least partly fictional, who were at the Ambassador Hotel that June day, including guests, staff (kitchen workers, switchboard operators, management, etc.), campaign workers, reporters, and more. There are lots of movie stars in the cast, and some of them (Sharon Stone, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy) are very good. But caring about the quotidian minutiae of these people's existences is a chore, and Estevez crams so many issues into his story (the Vietnam war, drugs, alcoholism, voting irregularities, adultery, racism, immigration, communism... even L.A. Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale's streak of consecutive shutouts) and tries so obviously to establish parallels between then and now that too much of the movie feels gratuitous and forced. A warts-and-all film about Robert Kennedy's extraordinary life and career would be welcome. Unfortunately Bobby isn't it. --Sam Graham