Parkland review

For the first 45 minutes or so, Parkland delivers the goods. It's a tense, well-paced and tightly constructed re-enactment of the day President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in November 1963. An ensemble piece focussing on a number of individuals affected by the infamous event, it is confidently absorbing. We see the harried medics (including Zefron and Hanks) struggling manfully with the victim on the hospital gurney, the frustration of the police department, represented by Livingston and Harbour, in letting suspect Lee Harvey Oswald slip through their fingers a few weeks earlier, the dogged determination by the Secret Service, personified by Thornton, to get the Zapruder footage printed in record quick time, the confused and frantic deliberations that go on in trying to the get Kennedy's body transported to a waiting plane.

It's riveting stuff, and certainly gives you an insight into the turmoil of the day with sharp vigour. Not one of the players strikes a false note, the cast are all uniformly strong, with GiamattI particularly effective as Zapruder, his world rocked by capturing the assassination on his cine camera. The period trappings of the era are very well conveyed – one can't fault the early '60s hairdos and clothing in any way.

Unfortunately, the second half sees the movie run out of considerable steam. Much time is expended on Oswald's brother (Dale) and mad mother (Weaver) as the suspect is held, The subsequent events, including reactions to Oswald's swift murder, simply don't draw one in so much. Once Kennedy's coffin leave Dallas the narrative energy is sucked out, and the ensuing dramas don't have the force or impact that the first half so adroitly displays. Shame that the end result is so underwhelming and disappointing when it begins so promisingly and skilfully maintains the tension for a good amount of time.

Parkland at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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