October 2nd, 2013



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A recounting of the chaotic events that occurred at Dallas' Parkland Hospital on the day U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Release Year: 2013

Rating: 5.8/10 (250 voted)

Director: Peter Landesman

Recounting the chaotic events that occurred in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, Parkland weaves together the perspectives of a handful of ordinary individuals suddenly thrust into extraordinary circumstances: the young doctors and nurses at Parkland Hospital; Dallas' chief of the Secret Service; an unwitting cameraman who captured what became the most watched and examined film in history; the FBI agents who nearly had the gunman within their grasp; the brother of Lee Harvey Oswald, left to deal with his shattered family; and JFK's security team, witnesses to both the president's death and Vice President Lyndon Johnson's rise to power over a nation whose innocence was forever altered.


Official Website: Official site

Release Date:

Filming Locations: Austin, Texas, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $10,000,000 (estimated)

Technical Specs


User Review


Rating: 7/10

I am a Kennedy historian, have been since I was about 13. I live for any films (dramatizations or documentaries) about the Kennedy dynasty or Assassination. When I first heard about Parkland, my expectations immediately were astronomical. I was so thrilled and could not wait to see it. So, add to that astronomical excitement when I received a ticket to the North American premier at the Toronto International Film Festival. My reason for telling all this was perhaps when the film comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray I will watch it again and come back to my review. It was hard to truly analyze this film amidst my excitement. I do agree with many professional critics that creator/writer/director Peter Landesman bit off more than he could chew. This is a huge story and a lot going on and he covers more than he should. Despite the film being called "Parkland" it spends as much time focusing on other events outside the hospital after the assassination. It would have made far more sense to stay inside the hospital and show us a dramatization of these people (similar to what Emilio Estevez's Bobby did) rather than covering so much all over the place. I do give him kudos for his historical accuracy and covering an angle of the assassination that I am fairly certain has never been on film before.

Despite there being some significant names attached to the film, there was literally no star. Everyone shared a few minutes, a few scenes, and a few lines. Perhaps that made it harder to become emotionally invested in these characters. I have never been a "hater" of Zac Efron but I've never really been a fan either. He won me over in this film for two reasons. 1. At the premier of the film he was so incredibly great with his fans and the crowd. He worked that crowd and got to every person he possibly could. 2. His performance (in particular the scene at the beginning of the film when he is first called in to work on Kennedy) is pretty close to the best in the entire movie. He shows some incredible emotion and strength and proves he has some serious acting chops. Despite being listed second in the cast Tom Welling's role was incredibly small. I am pretty sure he had three lines in the whole film so sadly I can't say good or bad to his performance because it was simply unnoticeable (and I am a huge fan of his from Smallville days.) Paul Giamatti is good in his role as Zapruder. I expected him to be great because Giamatti is a great actor and he certainly looks the role but he just doesn't seem to really sink into it. Marcia Gay Harden is decent in her role but it is a painfully small role which was surprising for her. She is basically a supporting cameo to the whole story. Ron Livingston gives a solid performance as James Hosty but I desperately wanted to see more from him and more from the character as well. Same for Billy Bob Thorton who gives a good performance but in so few scenes. The person who seems to get the most screen time is James Badge Dale who plays Robert Oswald. He is also very good in the role but the script just doesn't seem to give any of these great actors enough to really get into their characters. Many of these real life people could almost support their own films so to see their characters rushed is unfortunate. Jeremy Strong is a good Oswald, he certainly looks the part but his one major scene opposite Badge Dale isn't enough to show off his ability.

This type of story is simply too grand and complex in scale to cram into an hour and a half without it feeling rushed. I wanted to become emotionally invested in these characters and I struggled to do that. I also noticed that I felt like the rest of the audience was getting a little restless around the halfway mark. It laid everything out in point form and didn't beat around the bush but it missed the dramatization of the situation and forgot to make you feel like you were there rather than receiving a history lesson. It isn't a total loss, there are some really good scenes (Kennedy first arriving at Parkland, Oswald's burial was a particularly strong scene.) I thought the scenes of Zapruder and others seeing the film for the first time would be powerful but honestly...their reactions felt forced. I sort of understand the tepid reviews this is receiving. It is worth seeing but falls short of being a great historical film. Peter Landesman simply doesn't have the directing experience to make this work. I am sure he is a brilliant man but his directing lacks experience. His previous work that I have seen (Trade-See my review) could have been an amazing, stunning film but due to his direction it missed some crucial things and same could be said for this. Yes, my expectations were high but it ended up only delivering on the most basic level. 7/10

***Side note--I attended the North American Premier at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday September 6th/2013. I had the opportunity to shake hands and speak briefly with Tom Welling. I am not stating this to brag but rather more for my own benefit so when I look back on this review I can fondly remember my first premier! Thanks everyone who read my reviews!!***


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