Parkland is a historical drama that retains the audience’s attention, although it does not seem to have a strong purpose.
In the day leading up to John F. Kennedy’s visit, the staff at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital are in their usual routines. When disaster strikes, the staff are embroiled in the chaotic events surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy…
In a way, Peter Landesman’s Parkland aims to be the anti-JFK, eschewing conspiracy theory for a recount of the events following Kennedy’s assassination. Based on the book by Vincent Bugliosi, Parkland functions as an attempt to put conspiracy theories to rest.
The film concentrates on a range of characters who have some kind of involvement in the after effects of Kennedy’s shooting. It is interesting to see the Oswald family depicted; often there is not much thought given to these victims in accounts the assassination. The medical staff had an important role to play, but the film reveals nothing except that it was a stressful situation for all involved.
Parkland paints a picture of the immediate crisis, with characters looking for someone to blame. The desperate scramble in the immediate aftermath is portrayed, although this does not engender any real feeling.
The film mixes archive footage for the actual shooting with filmed scenes. It is a wise move for Landesman not to attempt to recreate the event itself. The use of titles to introduce characters attempts to instil some authority, almost to say that this is the definite account of events. The score strives for emotion where there is not much to be found.
Parkland is a decent drama with some good performances, yet it is not wholly satisfying as it fails to venture some kind of viewpoint. The film dips its toe in the political without ever making an actual point.
Parkland is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2013.