“Bobby” directed and written by Emilio Estevez is set on the day of the California Presidential Primary Elections in 1968. Set in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore, Anthony Hopkins, Sharon Stone, William H. Macy, Shia LaBeouf and many others share one location with seemingly loosely related story lines. Actual footage of Bobby Kennedy is spliced into the movie, mostly to give context to the times that the characters are currently living in.
Smartly, Estevez does not try to cast Bobby Kennedy. The Kennedy charisma is intangible and it would have taken away from the movie if someone else played him. Bobby Kennedy, instead, is an unseen vessel to examine hope and hopelessness; the hopelessness of the war, the economic struggle and the general lack of hope that ravaged America in the late 60’s. Remember, the Vietnam war had been raging for several years, parts of the country were suffering economic hardships, fights for equality for women and minorities, general lack of trust of the government by the citizens and vise versa. Obviously, to Estevez, Bobby Kennedy was a beacon and a symbol of hope.
The other characters are separated into small groups. Each group examines of a different social, economic, or cultural experience of the late 1960’s. Some of these groups are almost never currently discussed and have almost become extinct in the annals of American history. Many of the characters are unlikable and unsavory. The two old timers examine the way things were. The kitchen staff carefully shows us the relationship between races and systemic racism. A house wife and husband question the militant consumerism and image conscious nuclear family of the 50’s and 60’s. Bobby Kennedy’s staff were put in the movie as our window into the social political situation in America at the time. The hotel manager, his wife, and mistress, are people who try to show an enlightened point of view in public but still ultimately believe in the old way of doing things. A drunk musician, and her husband show the changing domestic roles that confused men and women. The stoners shine light on the culture of drug use at the time.
Each of these stories runs almost independently of each other except they are all set in the same place and they all exemplify the social adolescence of the country in the late 60’s.
A painful ending, even though you know what is going to happen, Estevez does a great job of making the scene emotional, and disheartening. The end of the movie reveals how the characters are connected and the importance of hope.
The movie is not a docu-drama. If you are expecting a minute by minute account of the day he was killed, you will be disappointed by the movie. The characters are not historically accurate, so if you want to know about the Bobby Kennedy assassination, this is not the movie for you.
The cast is huge and packed with stars, which is distracting at first. In the end though, I can see why so many great actors wanted to be in this movie.
This movie is insightful, disheartening and the acting stirring. If you want to see a movie all about Bobby Kennedy don’t see “Bobby.” If you want to see a movie about the late 60’s, see “Bobby.”