TIFF 2013: Parkland Review




Director: Peter Landesman

As a depiction of the events on the day of American President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22nd 1963 – as well as the three days in the wake of the killing – Parkland doesn’t cover any historical or narrative ground that hasn’t been touched on before, nor does it go out of its way to create melodrama. Landesman’s debut feature is a taut, suspenseful 90 minutes that hits all the proper talking points but does it in a remarkably visceral and fast paced fashion with an all star cast.

Taking a look at the event from select viewpoints of those who lived through the trauma – the doctors who tried to save Kennedy’s life (Zac Efron, Colin Hanks), Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti), Oswald’s brother (James Badge Dale), the FBI agent who let the shooter walk ten days prior (Ron Livingston), and the Secret Service head (Billy Bob Thornton) – Landesman bounces quickly between the overlapping stories to create a look at people moving too fast to grieve.

With the possible exception of Jacki Weaver as the overwritten and sneeringly villainous mother of Lee Harvey, the performances are uniformly strong despite a lack of written character for many of them. That’s part of Landesman’s ultimate point about this sad chapter in American history. When people move too fast for answers, there’s little hope for catharsis. These people barely know themselves and now they must question the world they live in.

For a full length review from the film’s theatrical release, please click here.