The story of the assassination of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was shot in the early morning hours of June 5, 1968 in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California, and twenty-two people in the hotel, whose lives were never the same.
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Tuesday, June 4, 1968: the California presidential primary. As day breaks Robert F. Kennedy arrives at the Ambassador Hotel; he'll campaign, then speak to supporters at midnight. To capture the texture of the late 1960s, we see vignettes at the hotel: a couple marries so he can avoid Vietnam, kitchen staff discuss race and baseball, a man cheats on his wife, another is fired for racism, a retired hotel doorman plays chess in the lobby with an old friend, a campaign strategist's wife needs a pair of black shoes, two campaign staff trip on LSD, a lounge singer is on the downhill slide. Through it all, we see and hear RFK calling for a better society and a better nation. Written by
Many of the cast members noted the film's relevance to the world of the time that the picture was made as America faced some of its deepest divisions in decades. "There is still a real need to bring people together," said Demi Moore. "After Bobby Kennedy was shot, there seemed to be a great loss of innocence, and with it came an unfortunate loss of passion, and a feeling of helplessness that has endured." Moore plays one of the film's saddest characters, the chanteuse Virginia Fallon, a once glamorous, now drunken lounge singer, who has reached rock bottom upon her final performance at the Ambassador Hotel. Moore noted: "This was the first time that I've had the opportunity to play a woman that drinks way too much. It's exhausting and exhilarating at the same time, because you can let go about caring how you look, because it's irrelevant. There's something very raw about going to a core place, and giving your body permission to do anything. There's no censorship necessary; you can be and say whatever you want." Moore especially enjoyed collaborating with her long-time friend Emilio Estevez, with whom she worked in his directorial debut film Wisdom (1987). She commented: "Even though he's also the writer, he didn't hold anything as precious. He's giving, but not controlling. He's especially open to improvisation on the part of actors and actresses, because he really trusts them. He allowed us to create and share, and at the same time he guided us too." See more »
The Christian Slater character violently grabs William Macy between the first and second buttons on the tuxedo shirt with a completely bloodied hand. Later at the ambulance, Macy's perfectly buttoned shirt has a only few minor specks of blood, should be a bloody mess. See more »
If marrying you tonight keeps you from going to Vietnam, then it's worth it
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Stories of racism, infidelity, aging, the effects of the Vietnam War, drugs: Why RFK's death was so impactful
BOBBY as written and directed (and starring) Emilio Estevez is not simply a recreation of the fateful night June 6, 1968 when Bobby Kennedy was shot, though that event is meticulously dissected as the sun dawns on Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel on that day. This film is a series of vignettes of the lives of many people (22 examples shine) whose hope for a better future than that of a country undergoing disintegration on many levels were shattered. It is about 'little people', people with choices whose responses to the death of a hero is devastating.
Racism (Christian Slater vs Laurence Fishburne vs interaction with Freddy Rodríguez and Jacob Vargas); hippie/white collar drug abuse (Ashton Kutcher dealing LSD to Brian Geraghty and Shia LaBeouf, Demi Moore's alcoholism defeating her marriage to Emilio Estevez and career as a lounge singer); aging and the problems of 'useless old people' (Harry Belafonte and Anthony Hopkins); adultery (hotel manager William Macy married to beautician Sharon Stone yet having an affair with switchboard operator Heather Graham); marriages teetering on commercialism (Martin Sheen and Helen Hunt); young political aspirants basing futures on RFK (Joshua Jackson and Nick Cannon); and the extremes to which young men will go to avoid being sent to Vietnam (Elijah Wood and Lindsay Lohan) - these are the main characters we get to know as they prepare for the evening's party for RFK and then suffer the explosive effect of the shooting by Sirhan Sirhan (David Kobzantsev). The power of the film lies in the impact Bobby Kennedy had on all of these people who represent the rest of a nation.
Estevez wisely uses film footage from life to project the speech and presence of RFK: using an actor to depict him would have made the effect less sharp. But in the end, as it seems apparent from Estevez' script, the power comes from the messages in the voice-over of Kennedy's own speeches, words to offer hope and a chance for resolution of the many conflicts that threatened to destroy the US. Would that there were minds with such thoughts speaking today when a leader is so desperately needed! The film has flaws (it would be difficult for a two hour enactment of a well known yet partially fictionalized incident not to). But the message is pungent and clear: we MUST care for each other as a country and forgo the alienation that is so rampant. A very fine film for thought. Grady Harp
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