Bobby (Estevez, 2006)

Having not lived through the 1960’s, I can’t begin to understand the constant turmoil that engulfed the hearts and minds of the American people at this time. But certain films do reveal connections between such moments of upheaval and the ramifications they’ve had on modern day America. The Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and the assassinations of key figures dominated the public consciousness, all critical historical events which have shaped our current disillusionment with politicians and corporate run media machines. The deaths of men like Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, JFK and finally RFK crippled a nation in need of strong and passionate voices for change. Emilio Estevez’s Bobby, a timely mosaic of lives coming together on the night of RFK’s assassination at The Embassy Hotel in Los Angeles, deals with the demise of faith in political figures, a stunning final glimmer magic gleaned from the words of those we elect to lead. I think we can all agree this magic has evaded our current President, even if you’re one of the 20% who approve of the way he’s handled the job. Bobby dares to juxtapose archival images of RFK with it’s characters’ silence, as if even the rich and famous actors like Martin Sheen, Demi Moore, Helen Hunt and the like can be moved to tears by such transcending words. Bobby has it’s faults, especially early on when Estevez’s script tries to pack so much back-story into cliched moments of development. Yet this film’s most potent theme stays dormant until the final, awe-inspiring assassination sequence, where we finally realize no matter the differences in race, opinion, or religion, this death signifies a loss for all involved. Estevez successfully creates this universal loss with subtle and nuanced moments of quiet, where characters become wrapped up in the vision of RFK, hypnotized by the possibilities of the future, in love with his idealistic outlook toward humanity. Then, with one gunshot, it comes crashing down, and Estevez understands the casualties do not just include those harmed in the shooting, but everyone who believed one man can make a difference. Bobby might relegate some of it’s vision to mainstream Hollywood fluff, but it also brings a nostalgic glory to the trust we must have in our leaders, a trust which has been destroyed by the countless lies and misleadings by Presidents ever since.


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