31 October 2006 | tccandler
An interesting, if somewhat cluttered, Altman-esquire film...
This movie suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder... I feel like I missed out on the details of each character.
You may not have suspected that this film is one of the biggest mysteries of 2006. I mean, how on earth did Emilio "Might Duck" Estevez command enough clout to assemble this stunning cast??? I am stumped. Nevertheless...
"Bobby" feels very much like a stylistic copy of Robert Altman's work -- perhaps a lighter version of Paul Thomas Anderson's operatic ensembles. You know the types of films I am referring to -- "Nashville", "Magnolia", "Short Cuts", Boogie Nights" -- the huge casts, varying story lines, interconnectivity, etc.
The events in this film all take place at Los Angeles' famed Ambassador Hotel in the moments leading up to the assassination of Robert Kennedy in 1968. There is the story of the nostalgic doorman who plays chess in the lobby. There is the story of the wasted night club singer. There is the story of a young girl who agrees to marry her friend so he doesn't have to go to Vietnam. There is the story of the racist food and beverage manager. There is the story of the bored married couple. There is the story of the political aides tripping on LSD. There is the story of the hairdresser... the cook.. the thief... his wife... and her lover -- Okay, fine... that's another film. There may even be a partridge in a pear tree somewhere along the way. "Bobby" is a sprawling film that may have jammed a little too much in between the credits.
That being said, the film is a model of professionalism. There are some fine performances. The costuming and make-up is so colorful and vivid as to become a character in and of itself. The editing is the film's highlight, cleverly blending original footage with fictional scenes.
The best performances come from William H. Macy, Anthony Hopkins, Lindsay Lohan & Svetlana Metkina. Hopkins plays wistful better than anyone ever has. Lohan has been called the "heart of the film" by Estevez himself. She gives the film an emotional connection and displays a level of acting talent that will surprise many audiences. Metkina has a few moments that will amuse you.
A few performances stray a little over the top -- Demi Moore is a prime example of that. She breaks the understated tone of the film. Also, the entire trippy scene with Ashton Kutcher struck me as entirely wasted.
The film winds down to the fateful event in the kitchen when Sirhan Sirhan ends the dream of many Americans. The film hints that this particular event may have been even more significant than the assassinations of either JFK or MLK. It hints that the course of the country shifted drastically that night. It hints, somewhat overtly, at the present situation we find ourselves in with world politics. And the words of Robert Kennedy echo sadly in the final chapter of the film.
There is so much crammed into this movie that it almost demands a second viewing. It is not that one can't keep up, but that each character gets so little screen time that it feels necessary to visit them again in order to get their full effect. I think that Estevez shows great promise here, but he may have overloaded his buffet plate -- and who can blame him with so much talent at his disposal.
© Written by TC Candler IndependentCritics.com