Movie Review: Bobby (2006)

Bobby (2006)_______8/10
A touching (Robert) Altmanesque tribute

Directed by Emilio Estevez

Harry Belafonte…. Nelson
Joy Bryant…. Patricia
Nick Cannon…. Dwayne
Emilio Estevez…. Jim Fallon
Laurence Fishburne…. Edward Robinson
Brian Geraghty…. Cooper
Heather Graham…. Angela
Anthony Hopkins…. John Casey
Helen Hunt…. Samantha
Joshua Jackson…. Wade
Ashton Kutcher…. Fisher
Shia LaBeouf…. Jimmy
Lindsay Lohan…. Diane
William H. Macy…. Paul
Svetlana Metkina…. Lenka Janacek
Demi Moore…. Virginia Fallon
Freddy Rodríguez…. José
Martin Sheen…. Jack
Christian Slater…. Timmons
Sharon Stone…. Miriam
Jacob Vargas…. Miguel
Mary Elizabeth Winstead…. Susan Taylor
Elijah Wood…. William  

Movie critics have been all over the map on Bobby, some measuring it against the gold standard of ensemble-casted, social-ennui movies of Robert Altman, e.g. Nashville.  Well, it is that type of movie, a slice-of-life, journalistic recreation of an important day in history.

This is another nostalgic visit for me of a vein in the ideological gold mine I didn’t tap too much, but was aware others were deeply exploring.  I didn’t have the sensitivity in those days to appreciate what a fine and decent human being Bobby Kennedy actually was.

The fatal flaw, as far as I am concerned, for Bobby and many of the others on the Left is expressed in the following quote:

Do not ever say that the desire to “do good” by force is a
good motive. Neither powerlust nor stupidity are good
motives. 
Ayn Rand

But that’s certainly a generalization with questionable validity here:  JFK actually reduced taxes and government power over the individual; RFK fought coercive unions and opposed the American war of aggression in Vietnam.  One thing for sure, a branch of the power-elite despised Jack and Bobby.

The movie takes us back to June 4, 1968, during the California Democratic primary, at the world-famous Ambassador Hotel.  (The hotel has been recently demolished to the displeasure of passionate advocates for historical preservation.) 

Bobby Kennedy was leading the primary by a substantial margin over Eugene McCarthy, and it is likely Bobby would have won the Democratic nomination and have gone on to defeat Tricky Dick and become the 37th president of the United States.  My how that would have changed history!

Bobby is two-tracked:

  • You see a day in the lives of real people (with some thoroughly enchanting performances—I didn’t realize what superb actors some of these “stars” truly are: particularly Laurence Fishburne, Heather Graham, Chrstian Slater, Lindsay Lohan, Demi Moore, and Sharon Stone.
  • In parallel, you see real footage of Robert Kennedy talking with people during that era. The campaign people are portrayed with the proper amount of idealism and motivation. Director Emilio Estevez captures the essential Bobby Kennedy in his own words and deeds.

My eyes misted up seeing the innocence of the time, as well as the naïve enthusiasm of Bobby’s supporters.  How much simpler we all saw the world then.  As I’m saying, several of the vignettes of the actors are precious; they’ll make highlight reels down at the Actors’ Studio.

At the end of the movie, Estevez overlays a long Bobby speech, and it’s simply a beautiful collection of words.  The words add up.  No sound bites, only high concepts delivered to all the people who understand what he’s saying.  From the highest realms of the heart and mind to people of all circumstance.

I simply miss that type of communication.  Honest, uncontrived, articulate.  Seeing the contrast between it and that of the current White House inhabitant is surely intended.

As I write this I haven’t done my own reading of the plausibility of the official story: that some nondescript Arab Sirhan Sirhan had sufficient motive to kill RFK independent of any other causation.  I suspect when the facts are in, this official story as so many others will be found sorely wanting.

Too many powerful elites in the American-government-led corporate-internationalist Junta profited by his absence.

A beautiful must-see movie.  The idealists shall rise again.

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