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Home: Dubai Film Festival 2006: Day 1: Bobby

Emilio Estevez’s high energy drama ‘Bobby’ is an ambitious, politically charged film. It has one of the best casts of the year – Anthony Hopkins, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Laurence Fishburne, William H. Macy and among others, Estevez himself. All these actors fulfill their parts admirably well, in multiple threads that span the gamut of America during the time. The themes of the film touch on issues of racism, class differences, spousal conflict and the drug fuelled culture of the late 70’s. But being ambitious without a point is not enough. Somewhere along its exploration of everything it delves into, ‘Bobby’ goes off track, and when the eventual culmination does occur, it makes us question the relevancy of many of the arcs we were shown.

The Anthony Hopkins segment for example, about a retired doorman of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where the assassination took place on the night of 4th June 1968, is well served by the services of an actor of Hopkins’ caliber. But it adds up to nothing in the final analysis. The same can also be said about the subplot with Martin Sheen, a rich stockbroker staying at the hotel and his wife Helen Hunt, who bickers constantly about her dress, her shoes and herself. Other segments have more luck. Are we to believe that something different happened to these people after their stay the hotel? Many films makes the allegory of human beings connected to each other, by events and places, but ‘Bobby’ with a canvas as wide as it is, fails to do justice to its microcosmic look at the US at a point in time.

A film with as wide a focus as ‘Bobby’, usually works when it is not clear to us how the different themes are all tied together. Look no further than Stone’s magnificent ‘JFK’ or Paul Anderson’s magnum opus ‘Magnolia’ for the best example of this. In ‘Bobby’, we know, almost anticipate what will happen at the end (it is part of history) and this knowledge provides us with a forgone conclusion. To say that ‘Bobby’ Kennedy would have changed America, possibly the world, had he been elected, as implied at the end by the recorded monologue of a rousing speech Robert Kennedy gave 6 months before he was killed, is a truism that requires more than just a look at the lives of people to convince us. - by Faizan Rashid [Rated 3 out of 5]

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