Review: Parkland (2013)

Director: Peter Landesman | 93 minutes | drama, thriller | Actors: Marcia Gay Harden, Matt Barr, Zac Efron, Mallory Moye, Paul Giamatti, Bitsie Tulloch, Ron Livingston, Jason Douglas, David Harbor, James Badge Dale, Larry Jack Dotson, Austin Nichols, Billy Bob Thornton, Jonathan Breck, Eugene Lee , Nico Evers-Swindell, Irene White, Luci Christian, Kat Steffens, Tom Welling, Mark Duplass, Gil Bellows, Sean McGraw, Brett Stimely, Paul Sparks, Samuel Davis, Colin Hansk, Gary Grubbs, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeremy Strong

Many people remember exactly where they were on November 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was murdered. We are now fifty years old and many books, films and documentaries about this radical event have passed. The directorial debut of Peter Landesman can also be added to this. Despite its many predecessors, “Parkland” offers a totally new perspective on the murder.

“Parkland” is not so much a reconstruction of the murder itself, but tells the story of bystanders who witnessed the murder from very close by. The impact the murder had on the operating doctors, the FBI and the cameraman who turned out to have the entire murder on film is undeniable. In “Parkland”, three fierce days after the murder are portrayed and reconstructed from different characters.

An important role is played by the medical staff of Parkland Hospital in Dallas. The entire crew did everything in their power to save Kennedy’s life, but unfortunately failed to do so. Zac Efron plays the treating doctor Jim Carrico. Despite the fact that his fame for many does not go beyond “High School Musical”, Zac knows how to convince Efron as a young and very passionate doctor. The fear of losing the president and his persistence to make the opposite happen creates a moving and painful scene. The grief of sister Doris Nelson (Marcia Gay Harden) also leaves no one unmoved.

The bewildered cameraman Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti), who unexpectedly turns out to have captured the entire murder on screen, also proves the enormous impact of this event. However, we never get to see the images he has on his camera in full: the moment when the shot is shot is cut out again and again. The FBI, which is suddenly thrown into the middle of an important murder investigation, is also an interesting angle, in which work and private life can sometimes be difficult to distinguish.

A second layer has been added that comes from a completely different direction. In it we see the brother and mother of the murderer Lee Harvey Oswald who both deal with the act of their relative in a completely different way. Although “Parkland” is quite a chaotic whole because of the many characters and perspectives, this is completely in line with the atmosphere of those days. Yet this chaos makes the film less easy to follow from time to time. And it also seems quite unlikely that things were so chaotic in the hospital at that time.

Although “Parkland” is therefore not completely convincing, it is a good attempt to portray the murder from a completely different perspective. And although that was precisely not the intention, this murder remains something that deserves more attention on the event itself. Peter Landesman made a reconstruction from unprecedented and very fascinating perspectives, but in which unfortunately a small gap remains unfulfilled.

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