End of Innocence

by Alan Rapp on December 1, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Bobby
  • IMDB: link

In the style of Grand Hotel, Emilio Estevez (who wrote and directed) brings us a look at the Ambassador Hotel and the people who work and stay there.  It’s not just any day however, it’s June 6, 1968 and Bobby Kennedy is coming to give his last speech before tragedy would strike, and one of the last remaining beacons of hope in his time was extinguished by hatred and violence.

The film follows the guests and staff of the Ambassador Hotel over the period of a day as they work, play, and ready for an appearance, by who many believe will become the next President of the United States.

The characters include the manager of the hotel (William H. Macy), his wife (Sharon Stone) who works as the beauty parlor, and his mistress (Heather Graham) who works the phone bank with her friend (Joy Bryant)  There’s also a Mexican kitchen worker (Freddy Rodriguez) dealing with a racist boss (Christian Slater), and a bride (Lindsay Lohan) who is marrying a friend from high school (Elijah Wood) to stop him being sent to Vietnam.

We’ve also got a reporter from Czechoslovakia (Sveltlana Metkina) who wants an interview with Kennedy, two leaders of the campaign (Nick Cannon, Joshua Jackson), two door knockers (Brian Geraghty, Shia LaBeouf) who would rather talk up the pretty waitress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and by drugs from a local dealer (Ashton Kutcher).

And there’s a couple (Martin Sheen, Helen Hunt) dealing with marital problems, the club’s singer (Demi Moore) and her husband (Estevez), and the former door man of the hotel (Anthony Hopkins) who can’t, or won’t, go home.

Whew!  Get all that?  Estevez gives us so many characters and stories it becomes dizzying at times.  However it also hides some of the lesser actors, and three of my least favorite (Graham, Lohan, Kutcher), by allowing the stories to rotate and give us large helpings of Rodriguez, Sheen, Hunt, Cannon, and Hopkins.

The structure of the film allows the viewer to wander through the hotel and the lives of these individuals as they wait for the appearance of Bobby Kennedy.  Kennedy is shown only in clips and video, (much like Princess Di in The Queen).  He’s largely the ghost of the film, but his message, and loss, is felt by every single character in the hotel.

At times Bobby comes perilously close to becoming a train wreck by trying to juggle so many different stories at a time.  The film struggles at times with this weight, but never buckles underneath it.  And Estevez, who should get a serious look for Best Director, uses it all to set-up the finale of the film which is as moving, intelligent, and heart-wrenching as anything you have or will see on film this year.  If the entire film had been the quality of the final 15 minutes it would no doubt be the best film of the year; it will have to make do with being great instead.

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