Bobby Review


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

Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in the Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968 shortly after winning the Democratic primary in California – a major step in securing the nomination for the Presidency – and died the next morning. His death, coming at the end of a turbulent decade filled, signaled for many people an end of idealism and the beginning of an age of political cynicism.


Written and directed by Emilio Estevez, “Bobby” covers the interweaving stories of several different people – from the hotel manager (William H. Macy) to a busboy (Freddy Rodríguez) staying at the Ambassador in the 24 hours leading up to the assassination in a sprawling Altman-esque fashion.

Typical of large ensemble films with lots of threads and characters, none of them get quite the amount of time they need to come to any sort of conclusion, which seems to have been the point to a degree, but that knowledge doesn’t do much to alleviate the unsatisfying nature of it.

It’s to the credit of Estevez’s screenplay that the characters are well drawn enough that we do come to care for them and their problems and though they largely start out as types, he goes to great pains to make actual human beings out of them. He’s helped a great deal by a stellar cast who all turn in very fine work. They’re all good enough that you really want to see more of them. Fishburne, Hopkins, Macy and interestingly LaBeouf, are the standouts, often as not playing to type but doing so to great effect. Fishburne in particular, though barely in the film, makes a great impression with two of “Bobby’s” best scenes, especially his short speech on The Once And Future King.

Interestingly, it’s the film’s namesake who gets the least of this. Estevez has decided not to use an actor to stand in for him, instead only having him speak through archival footage, which has the result of the person around which everything revolves being not much more than an ill-defined symbol for idealism and positive change. The lack of definition is a major part of the anti-climactic feel towards the end; for most of the film it’s a given that everyone knows what Kennedy symbolizes. Not every story comes together into a satisfying climax, and it feels like some time has been wasted with some people (notably Sheen and Hunt) that could have been better spent with others.

Despite that it’s generally quite good. It tends to lean a bit towards predictability but never too badly. It touches on important themes about the unity of humanity and the necessity of recognizing that unity. Unfortunately touch on them is all it does. It’s ambitious, but trying to do too much in too short a running time. With a bit more tightening it could have been very good, maybe even great. It’s not, but it is worth at least look.