Wednesday, September 11, 2013

TIFF 2013 Review- Parkland

Dallas' Daley Plaza November 22nd 1963; Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti) checks his Bell and Howell Zoomatic as he talks to his staff as his office.  The office is closing at lunchtime so everyone can head to the Plaza to see the President.  Dr. Jim Carrico ( Zac Efron) picks up the phone in the residence room at Parkland Memorial Hospital more asleep than awake as the Dallas F.B.I. office preps for a big day as the President will be in their care. Lastly, the head of the Dallas Secret Service Forrest Sorrels ( Billy Bob Thorton) and his team wait at the airport for the President's arrival.

In the opening sequence of the film first time writer director Peter Landesman lays out four main of the five main parts of the film.  Parkland Memorial, the hospital with it's Doctors and Nurses that will try to save President Kennedy then Lee Harvey Oslwald's life two days later.  The Dallas FBI office that were front and centre on the day but missed the watch listed Oswald when he was in their office 10 days earlier.  Abraham Zapruder who's name is globally known for the film he shot along with the Secret Service who had not lost "their man" before November 22, 1963 and have not done so since.

Director Landesman does an exemplary job with a notable cast. Each character has their moment to shine and no ones talents are underused or wasted. The scene in the operating room where they try to save Kennedy is choreographed chaos. Nurse Doris Nelson (Martha Gay Harden) is the first to take charge and get the team moving Resident Jim Carrico is stunned at first then begins procedures to find a pulse then get an airway open on the mortally wounded President until the senior doctor on staff Malcom Perry (Colin Hanks) can make it to the operating theatre.  The situation is not helped by the secret service men,  F.B.I. agents and government officials all in the room who don't leave until Nurse Nelson clears them out except for the First Lady and JFK's personal body guards.

The screenplay includes an unusual angle to explore as part of the narrative; the reaction and effect on Lee Harvey Oswald's family after the shooting. We meet his brother Robert ( James Badge Dale) at his office with the news first breaks of the apparent shooter they have in custody, first as a suspect for the murder of a Dallas police officer then untimely for the assassination of the President. Jacki Weaver continues her streak of strong performances as Marguerite Oswald speaking of potential book deals and how her son Lee was a government agent and a hero. A telling comment comes from a Dallas police office who advised Robert Oswald to leave the State with the rest of his family and change his name implying that the Oswald name is forever tarnished and they will not get any favours from the Dallas police department.

However the fastest recognition of the enormity of the event  comes from Abrahim Zupruder. He knows right away that he filmed the death of an American President.  He is instantly aware that his film will change the fortunes of his family forever. Zupruder would not relinquish the tape convincing F.B.I  head Sorrels that he was the person to maintain custody of the film. He would only give the stills to Life Magazine over the multitude of bidders after they promised that they would not publish the kill shot. Following a screening in his office he remarks that he wished that he had never shot the film.

Peter Landesman's production moves at a rapid clip. He explores areas of the shooting and aftermath that have been under represented on film. He introduces the audience to several main participants in a historical day in American history Landesman presents the hours before the event through the key activities over the next they three days that followed. At the heart of the film is two very different attempts save a life and two very different funerals. Parkland is a film that I can recommend.

***  out of 4.

Parkland| Peter Landesman| U.S.A.| 2013 | 93 Minutes|

Tags: Daley Plaza, Parkland Memorial Hospital, November 22nd 1963, President John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, the Zupruder Film, Dallas Secret Service, Dallas F.B.I.

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