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USA 1991
Directed by
Oliver Stone
198 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
5 stars

JFK (Director's Cut)

JFK is not, as the title suggests, a biopic of President John F. Kennedy, but rather an investigation of his Dallas assassination as revealed by the passionately dogged work of real-life New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (played by Kevin Costner), who undertook the only prosecution in connection with the event. The case failed and with it Garrison's claim that November 1963 saw an effective coup d'état by America's military-industrial conglomerate whose interests were threatened by the winds of change which Kennedy represented.

Based on Garrison's book On The Trail Of The Assassins and one by Jim Marrs, Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy, the film is a fascinating, masterfully-structured join-the-dots compendium of facts and surmisals that unequivocally contradict the findings of the Warren Commission that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole assassin.

As the film's plot is complex, so the cast of characters is large with actors such as Gary Oldman, Joe Pesci, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek all turning in fine performances in their respective roles whilst Kevin Costner does his usual decent all-American man-of-principle thing with conviction.

The film also owes much to the contributions of cinematographer, Robert Richardson, and editors, Joe Hutshing and Pietro Scalia, all of whom won Oscars, in visually bringing together the many pieces of the puzzle. Given that the film must be considered, at least in part conjectural, it perhaps could have been shorter, particularly in the last section of the film dealing with the trial of Clay Shaw, a relatively minor figure, without losing any of its considerable power.

 

 

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