3 hours and 25 minutes of really intense dialogue is softened by Kevin Costner’s lovely sorrowful eyes…
JFK won 2 Oscars, has a flat 8 rating on IMDB and was even described by director Oliver Stone as ‘my Godfather‘. Now the academy loves this kind of thing and there is no denying that JFK is a great cinematic achievement. What is up for the debate however is how much of this film is historically accurate. Whilst the crux of the thing holds up, large parts depicted in JFK never took place, including the famous meeting between the shady whistle blower ‘X’ (Donald Sutherland) and Jim Garrison (Costner). That scene has one of two incredibly lengthy and very impressive monologues (the other coming in the shape of Costner’s courtroom speech at the films conclusion) that tie the movie together. That neither of these speeches ever happened slightly takes away from the gravitas of the film but both are certainly performed admirably by Sutherland and Costner.
Stone took some risks with the casting and while Joe Pesci just about pulls of a difficult role, John Candy does not. Michael Rooker also struggles when alongside such heavyweights as Jack Lemmon, Kevin Costner and Gary Oldman, who are all excellent. The rest of the cast also has mixed fortunes with Kevin Bacon impressing in a small role but Tommy Lee Jones looking uncomfortable as the flamboyant Clay Shaw.
I may be a bit skewed against JFK as I had watched all 9 hours of HBO borefest John Adams just days before so I probably wasn’t prepared for another 3 hours of what is essentially men talking in dark rooms, but even baring this handicap in mind, JFK had me hooked for most of it’s ridiculously long running time and there is no doubting it was a landmark film when released back in 1991.