Cert 15; 1hr 33mins ****
AS the United States commemorates the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy on Friday, November 22, a less well known story is told in Parkland of the ordinary people who were caught up in the tragic events of that day.
Based on Vincent Bugliosi’s account, Four Days in November, this is a fascinating factual dramatization recounting the events that happened behind the scenes in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, and the three days that followed.
A key figure is Zac Efron’s young doctor, Charles Carrico, who struggles to retain his professional composure when the dying President is rushed into Parkland General Hospital’s ER flanked by dozens of secret servicemen.
The President’s injuries are so severe that wife Jackie O is still clutching part of his skull and brain matter and as the doctors pump away at the President’s heart the camera never shies away from the gory detail.
Later we see the same medical team attempt to save Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald after he is gunned down on live television by Jack Ruby.
Then there is the secret service man (Billy Bob Thornton) who can’t quite believe he’s lost a President on his watch, and the immigrant garment manufacturer Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti) whose Super 8 camera captures the only footage ever recorded of Kennedy’s assassination.
There is also an intriguing look at the Oswald family which reveals a mother (Jacki Weaver) so delusional that she thinks her son has acted in the national interest and a brother, Robert (James Badge Dale), who retains his decency and sense of family values despite the insanity going on around him.
Fifty years on, Parkland offers a fresh perspective on a story we feel we have become so familiar with.
By RUTH DOWDS