Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Written for the screen, directed by and even featuring Emilio Estevez, 'Bobby' is obviously a labour of love for the former Bratpacker. Telling several intertwined stories set in the Ambassador Hotel the night Bobby Kennedy was shot, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the 30's movie it references, 'Grand Hotel'. Unfortunately despite all the love lavished, the stories just aren't strong enough.
Looking well, featuring a truly stellar cast and littered with archive footage from the era, this is almost like a lost Oliver Stone movie, the missing installment of a trilogy also featuring 'JFK' and 'Nixon'. It's a far less angry movie than either of those though and there is a sickly hagiographic glow over the whole movie. I am no expert on the Kennedy Clan, but even I know Bobby was not without his faults. This movie tries to paint his death as the death of an idealism that might have made America great. This is a popular idea, but a pretty naive one.
Whatever his weaknesses as a screenwriter, Estevez can certainly direct actors, and he gets some terrific performances from his all-star cast. Sharon Stone, Anthony Hopkins, Demi Moore, Harry Belafonte, Lindsay Lohan, Elijah Wood, Heather Graham and William H. Macy are just some of the talent on show. Which is a great pity, because ultimately they are wasted.
Which is not to say 'Bobby' is not without interest. There is a 'Baby Jane' (or should that be 'Baby G.I. Jane') moment when Sharon Stone and Demi Moore face off in a scene on female aging and celebrity. But such events cannot mask the blandness of it all. For all the background colour of Vietnam, race conflict and drugs, every character seems unnaturally decent. Even Christian Slater's racist kitchen manager ultimately comes right. It makes you wonder which movie Sirhan Sirhan breaks in from to do the dastardly deed, or even why America needed saving in the first place.
An honourable movie, but a disappointment all the same.



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