DIRECTOR: Emilio Estevez
Emilio Estevez’s star studded film following the day in which Bobby Kennedy will ultimately be assassinated, through the eyes of other guests at the Ambassador Hotel in California, sounds like a gem on paper, but in reality, it misses the mark completely.
Its first error is to sell a film on an all start cast playing guests and workers at the hotel who are about witness one of American’s most fateful moments, but neglects to mention that most of them are completely fictitious. The idea was to use this factional story to set the tone and aesthetic of the period, giving us some insight in to the time and issues surrounding Bobby and maybe why he was killed.
Only he was murdered by a disgruntled Palestinian who took issue with his stand of Palestine, an issue not referred to in the film at all. Instead, it will delve into the era of LSD, racism, sexism, adultery and maybe a look at class, though it is not obvious.
Estevez took inspiration from two main sources, the first being an image of a young black man throwing a chair at the wall after Bobby’s shooting. But nobody knows who this man was so Estevez invented a character for Bobby’s campaign, one which was interesting but hollow as he never existed.
The second was that of a woman who married young men to help them dodge the draft to Vietnam. In the film, she was portrayed, fictitiously, by Lindsey Lohan, with her husband being played by Elijah Wood, but both were miscast in my opinion, coming across as vacuous and sloppy caricatures.
But like so many characters in this, most are simply cyphers to serve a plot of headlines, few managing to convey the era better than so many have done before.
The only character of real note was that Jose (Freddy Rodriguez), the Latino kitchen hand who in reality, held Kennedy’s head as he lay dying from his fatal gunshot wound. The character has had his name changed but his actions in that final moment are correct, but in the final moments of the film, the last five minutes to be precise, the film comes together and finally becomes interesting because, let’s face it, up until the last five minutes or so, this is a monotonous soap opera of boring characters who happen to be played by great actors.
Estevez has allowed his passion for the subject to romanticise his view of the film to the point in which we are supposed to be moved by the significance of the events and get behind these characters but in reality, he has failed in both his writing and his direction to express this, leaving us with a docu-drama styled story of something which really happened through the eyes of cyphers who where never there.
Confused? Not as much as the this script and it is such a shame because with a better screenwriter to temper this script, tone down the preaching and breath life into the characters, this could have been so much more than a film summed up by the final five minutes of tension.