Directed by: Emilio Estevez
Premise: A fictionalized account of the lives of twenty-two people working and staying at the Ambassador Hotel the day Robert Kennedy was shot.
What Works: Bobby‘s key strengths are its writing and structure, which includes narratives that complement each other. The story of Diane (Lindsay Lohan) and William (Elijah Wood), two young people marrying to keep William from going to Vietnam, contrasts with the story of the crumbling marriage between Ambassador Hotel manager Paul (William H. Macy) and his wife Miriam (Sharon Stone). The Diane/William story also contrasts with the story of two aged men, Nelson (Harry Belafonte) and John (Anthony Hopkins), who reminisce about the loves of their life and are quickly inheriting death. By far the strongest narratives are the relationships between the kitchen staff, including Miguel (Jacob Vargas), Jose (Freddy Rodriguez), and Edward (Laurence Fishburne). These relationships have a strong dynamic and the dialogue between them is very sharp.
What Doesn’t: Bobby suffers from a few too many characters and storylines. The film is spread too thin and some of its periphery narratives, such as the marriage of Samantha (Helen Hunt) and Jack (Martin Sheen), serves no purpose. The narrative of two college-age Kennedy volunteers (Shia LaBeouf and Brian Geraghty) who get high on acid instead of fulfilling their campaign duties does not go anywhere and relies on clichéd drug humor that belongs in some other film. Bobby’s biggest problem, however, is that the film is not sure what it is about. The story seems to be about dashed hope for the future, punctuated by the death of Bobby Kennedy, and most of the film is working toward that purpose, but in the end the film goes the other way, reaching for a more hopeful resolution that is out of step with the rest of the themes in the picture.
Bottom Line: Despite its shortcomings, Bobby is a worthy effort. It is ambitious film that gets lost in the number of characters and storylines it is trying to balance. The film does give its star actors some meaty roles to chew on and most run with the material they have been given.
Episode: #120 (December 3, 2006)