DUBBY’S DVDISCUSSION: Bobby: The day Camelot finally died


The movie Bobby about the assassination of Robert F Kennedy takes place in the Ambassador Hotel in June, 1968. The movie begins simply with the words that Bobby held out promise to honourably withdraw from an unpopular war. It then asks the question, “Where are such leaders for our days?”

There is no grand standing, no over the top messaging. Robert Altman — like the camera moves about the hotel listening into the conversation in the kitchens, in the hallways, in the lobbies and we see Bobby Kennedy on television as he makes pitches with great sincerity, and as the time comes for him to reach the Ambassador Hotel, we sense anticipation.

Director Emilio Estevez has a heady cast — Anthony Hopkins, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Lindsay Lohan, Elijah Wood, Laurence Fishburne, Christian Slater, William H Macy, Joy Bryant and even Ashton Kutcher. These people might dazzle you because they are recognizable A-line actors, but in fact they are playing everyday people. A couple is about to get married. For the wrong reasons. Two young men getting stoned in LSD because that’s what they did. A hair dresser offering kind advice even as her husband is having an affair in a living room. The hotel owner reminiscing with an old friend. Meals being prepared, the ball room being decorated for Kennedy’s speech... Everyday things happening in an everyday kind of way. But there is hope. Kennedy in just a little while will solve the problems of all those who seek his help.

Says Scott Warren, “All in all, Estevez has pulled together the best political drama, fiction or otherwise, in recent memory. Avoiding Oliver Stone-like conspiracy theories, he draws from piecing together a mosaic of characters deftly blending them into a multilayered script filled with A-list talent, and tackles issues as prevalent today as they were 40 years ago.”

Says Scott Huver, “Despite Bobby’s much-ballyhooed all-star cast, the film’s strengths are delivered by a two-man show: The passion and restraint of writer-director-costar Emilio Estevez, and the understated yet overwhelming presence of Robert F Kennedy himself.

In his effort to recall and contrast the enthusiastic optimism that surrounded the presidential campaign of RFK with the heartbreaking, illusion-shattering reality of his assassination, Estevez wisely bypasses conventional biopic storytelling or even conspiracy-minded cinematic razzle-dazzle of JFK. Instead he tells the tale from the ground level, focusing on a large, disparate cast of characters of differing social status — some interconnected, some not — who’ve assembled at Los Angeles’ swank Ambassador Hotel on the fateful day in 1968, and as a group they’re both as troubled as that turbulent year and still each clinging to hope in their own individual ways.”

Sam Graham closes with, “In the final quarter or so of Bobby, writer-director-actor Emilio Estevez finally starts tightening his grip on the viewer as we head inexorably toward the film’s climax: the 1968 assassination of Robert F Kennedy in a Los Angeles hotel kitchen. In the course of these scenes — among them Kennedy’s acceptance speech after winning the California Democratic presidential primary (the senator is seen only in file footage), his death at the hands of gunman Sirhan Sirhan, and the chaos and despair that ensued — Estevez steadily ratchets up the sense of tension and dread.

Knowing exactly what’s coming, while the characters onscreen don’t, is excruciating, as is our grief at hearing RFK’s own words, so eloquent, so hopeful and inspiring, as we watch the horrible events unfold and wonder what might have been.”