New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison discovers there's more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story.New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison discovers there's more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story.New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison discovers there's more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story.
Clocking in at more than three hours, the film has a definite focus on its story, with every element of the film being used to further the plot. Garrison is a modern hero in the film, a city DA that rises to the enormous challenge of investigating the President's assassination. Kevin Costner seems to perfectly capture this type of character (also achieving a thick, charming southern accent) and connecting with the viewers. He is surrounded by an all-star supporting cast, all of which truly become the real life figures they portray. Stone writes believable and engaging dialogue, but since the film focuses so heavily on story, he spends little time developing the characters. Oliver Stone is a controversial director, and his style can be very polarizing, but personally, I enjoyed his strange method of storytelling. The costumes seemed appropriate for the setting, and the set designs were extraordinary, particularly the recreations of 1960s city streets such as Dallas and New Orleans.
John Williams was responsible for writing the film's score, and was nominated for an Oscar for his efforts. Williams was busy writing the score for Hook around the same time, so he actually wrote themes for the film before the film was shot. This resulted in Stone cutting and editing the film to the music, instead of the typical method of fitting the music to the film. Williams gives JFK a tragic, but heroic theme, but also incorporates pulsing synthesizers for the investigative scenes (an unusual tactic for the composer). This resulted in an effective score and a seamless integration with the film. The cinematography was unusual, but played a very important role in the story. The film opens with a montage of newsreel clips from JFK's presidency. It slowly intersperses Stone's own clips, but the lighting and coloring (black-and-white and grainy film) make the clips all seem genuine. Much of the film is shot in this manner, giving a very real sense to the story, very similar to a documentary. I can honestly say this film would not have been the same had it not been for this unique approach to cinematography.
JFK (rated R) contains strong language throughout, and the assassination scenes may be too graphic for young viewers. The 3-hour runtime will bore some; however, any lover of historical dramas or investigative thrillers will finish the film asking for more. The film is an emotional journey, and viewers will always find themselves rooting for Garrison and his seemingly impossible quest. I give this film a B+, finding it "guilty" of keeping me on the edge of my seat.
- Oct 13, 2016