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JFK (1991)

The true story that refuses to go away.

Directed by:

Oliver Stone

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 181 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

Kevin Costner stars as New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison. Following the assassination of US President John F Kennedy in Dallas in 1963, Garrison takes it upon himself to look into the assassination, investigating the already-closed original investigation as well as the events themselves. He is doubtful of the official description of events, and what he learns only serves to deepen his suspicions. Reopening the FBI files, he finds that the facts they have presented don't always tally with the evidence. In actuality, the evidence increasingly points to the possibility that there were multiple shooters taking part.

The leads Garrison follows imply that conspiracy may have involved those who wished to escalate US involvement in the Vietnam War, against the stated aims of President Kennedy. Vice President Lyndon B Johnson was much more pro-war, and thus the peacemaking Kennedy was the only stumbling block on the way to their increased involvement in Vietnam. During the course of his investigation Garrison finds himself out on a limb, often treated as a crackpot and even putting himself and his family at risk, as he tries to separate truth from illusion and discover whether there really was a government conspiracy behind the assassination.

Oliver Stone's historical investigation is a masterpiece of understated cinema. The film features little action, instead focusing on the complicated trail of evidence surrounding the case and the characters involved. That being said, the plot is gripping and fascinating, and needs no embellishments to improve it. The cast as a whole give convincing performances – Kevin Costner is noteable as DA Garrison, and Gary Oldman deserves a mention for his outstanding portrayal of Lee Harvey Oswald. In all, the film doesn't so much explain what happened on that day in 1963 as encourage the audience to question the official version of events. In that respect, it has been instrumental in raising doubts about the 'truth' as told so far, even playing a major role in the debate that led to the passage of the US's 1992 Assassination Materials Disclosure Act.

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It's Got: Outstanding performances from all involved.

It Needs: To be watched at least twice in order to understand all the plot twists and turns.

DVD Extras One would certainly have liked to see this released with a commentary by Kevin Costner and Oliver Stone. Extras: None. DVD Extras Rating: 0/10

Alternatives:

All the Presidents Men, Seven Days in May., Thirteen Days

Summary

Not only an important film that raises some significant questions, but an interesting one that holds audience attention throughout.

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