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May 21, 2007 | by  | in Film | [ssba]


This film follows the stories of guests, staff and visitors of The Ambassador Hotel on the day of US Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination there in 1968. While the film is full of great actors and the director is very talented, stories that have an obvious air of self-importance, like this one, are always bitter pills to swallow. Firstly Esteves deserves to be congratulated on his great portrayal of the event and his use of costumes, sets, props and especially real audio and visual footage to include Kennedy as a character in his own film. The actors are all fantastic, with even Lindsey Lohan giving as good a performace as anyone. (Way to go Lindsey!) The emotion could be toned down a little but the main issues come when you actually start trying to figure out what the film is saying, other than the clear parallels between the need for social change back then and the current conditions in America. The film is not your run of the mill fictional story but it certainly is not a docudrama either. It is not even overly political and yet it is still damn difficult to follow if you are not an American or clued up on Kennedy’s campaign and the influence he had on the country.

Predictably enough, Esteves uses the technique of throwing the narrative back and forth between many different characters before uniting them in the final, tragic shooting sequence in the hotel’s kitchen. The hotel manager has an affair with a switchboard clerk, two young campaign workers decide to buy LSD from a hippie, there are racial disputes between chefs and two friends get married to keep the groom from getting sent off to war.

This technique tends to work well and personally I really enjoy it but in this film things just do not seem to match up. Esteves gives insight into the conditions of the time and the camerawork is seamless in its linking of the characters but the staggered narrative only confuses his message. Many of the storylines, particularly one with Demi Moore and Esteves himself, seem to have nothing whatsoever to do with the Kennedy story. Moore plays a stage performer and Esteves her husband on the verge of divorce. It is nice little snippet but it is not really needed. All that said, the film did make me go and read up on the history of the event (if only on Wikipedia) so perhaps it works better than seems.



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