(picture courtesy of IMDB)
Bobby (2006) is a film about shattered dreams. The title 'Bobby' refers to Senator Robert Kennedy, who was assassinated in the kitchen of the Hotel Ambassador in Los Angeles, after he won the California democratic primary for the US presidential election in 1968.
I thought this film would be like Oliver Stone's JFK (1991) which is an analysis of the assassination of Bobby's brother John F Kennedy a few years earlier. But no, no conspiracy theories here, no CIA, not even a mention of who the guy who killed Bobby was or why; even though the film shows the assassination of Bobby. It doesn't even tell much about Bobby himself as a person behind all the public appearances.
Instead, Bobby tells about the lives of different fictional people living, working or staying at the Ambassador hotel at the time the assassination happened: the hotel manager, the kitchen head, a waiter, telephone operators, a hair dresser, a retired doorman, a singer and her husband, a pair of socialites, various Kennedy campaigners and volunteers, and a journalist. These people experienced their own tragedies and happiness, hopes and sadness, until that fateful day when Bobby was shot and some of them fell along with him receiving the bullets.
All these characters portray the different sections of society in the 1960's America with its political hustle and bustle and social upheaval. Martin Luther King had just been murdered. The American society was still deeply wounded by the separation between the whites and the blacks. There were public outcries about the Vietnam War which had killed and maimed many young people, with the end nowhere to be seen. In this confusing situation Bobby Kennedy announced his candidacy and offered different promises that appealed to the young, the blacks, other ethnic minorities and of course the Catholics. Their hopes for him are revealed in the words his brother said of him: "He saw wrong and tried to right it. He saw suffering and tried to heal it. He saw war and tried to stop it." All these hopes shattered when he died on the floor of the Hotel Ambassador kitchen.
The Golden Globe nominated drama is directed by Emilio Estevez and is star-studded. Estevez' dad Martin Sheen played alongside Helen Hunt as the pair of socialites, Anthony Hopkins played as the retired doorman with Harry Belafonte as his friend. Demi Moore portrayed the tired and drunk ex-diva very well, while the beautician cheated by her husband was played by Sharon Stone. Christian Slater played the angry F&B manager and Elijah Wood with his sweet face played a young boy marrying a girl so that he won't be sent to Vietnam. And who played Bobby? Nobody (actually almost nobody). Almost all of Bobby's appearances in the film were compilations of actual news footage, photos and recordings of his speeches.
The film received 7 minutes of standing ovation in the Venice Festival, but received mixed reviews. I myself can say I like this film and think that it's good even though the start was very slow. The multiple characters also made it a bit difficult to focus. But it does brilliantly portray the spirit of the 1960's (I guess, I wasn't born yet at that time). And the last scenes were great; the song Sound of Silence was played and the film slowly reached the climax in Bobby's assassination, with emotion so intense and forceful, all the slowness in the beginning was forgotten.
If I have to describe the film in one word, the word will be "Moving". So, go see it if you like this kind of film :)
errr... actually, there's one more to add here.
At the end of the film my friend Irene asked something in the line of this: how could after looking at a brilliant person like Bobby they chose someone like Dubya who can barely string a sentence. Yeah well..... :D
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0308055/ IMDB page on Bobby
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_%282006_film%29 Bobby at Wikipedia