Writer/director Emilio Estevez has done his best work yet in Bobby (2006). The film isn’t as much about Robert F. Kennedy, or even RFK’s assassination, as much as it is about the hopes and dreams of a dozen people as the relate to RFK.
The cast features a mind-boggling array of heavy-hitters (Hopkins, Fishburne, Sheen), has-beens (Moore, Hunt, Stone), mid-career (Wood, Macy, Graham) and up-and-coming stars (Lohan, Cannon, LaBoeuf, Rodriguez). I would be amiss to overlook Ashton Kutscher’s convincing cameo as a tripped-out hippy, which provides some of the film’s best comic relief.
The music, the clothes, the racial tensions, and anti-war sentiments in the film are all very right and very 1968.
As a period piece and series of character portraits, the film works well. It’s even an okay anti-war piece. But as a story? Not so much. Estevez shows us before with no after. The film ends two minutes after the assassination. Plus, other than the assassination, the plot has little discernible direction.
But that’s okay. If this film does nothing other than serve as a reminder of what might have been, it is a welcome one. Estevez gives us a portrait of RFK, patched together from various speeches and indirectly via his characters. Maybe this is a hopelessly idealistic portrait of a hopelessly idealistic presidential hopeful, but some of us could use a little more of that these days. When was the last time we had an idealist in the Oval Office?