Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
USA, 2006. The Weinstein Company, Bold Films, Bobby, Holly Wiersma Productions. Screenplay by Emilio Estevez. Cinematography by Michael Barrett. Produced by Edward Bass, Michel Litvak, Holly Wiersma. Music by Mark Isham. Production Design by Patti Podesta. Costume Design by Julie Weiss. Film Editing by Richard Chew.
It’s June 6, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, the entire building abuzz with anticipation as guests await the arrival of America’s possible next president, Robert Kennedy. Throughout the day, this highly engrossing ensemble piece follows the lives of various characters, including two retired employees (Anthony Hopkins, Harry Belafonte), a young woman (Lindsay Lohan) marrying a high school friend (Elijah Wood) to save him from service in Vietnam, a doctor (Martin Sheen) with emotional problems vacationing with his wife (Helen Hunt) and the local beauty parlour manager (Sharon Stone) who is married to the general manager of the hotel (William H. Macy), who is himself having an affair with one of the switchboard operators (Heather Graham).
Meanwhile, an alcoholic singer (Demi Moore) is performing nightly in between some heavy bouts with her emotionally abused husband (writer-director Emilio Estevez, also Moore’s real-life ex-husband). By the end of the day, however, this variety of characters will be bound by one single event after being together and witnessing (in some cases to a very dangerous degree) the assassination of the man who gave Americans hope that the war in Vietnam would be ended.
Estevez outdoes himself with superb dialogue and some really rich characters, the performances of which make this film worth watching despite the fact that the plotting is too scattered and never finds any emotional anchor.
Stone is a particular highlight in a performance that is easily the film’s finest, while Moore does her best work in years and Freddy Rodríguez and Laurence Fishburne deliver some fine acting as exploited kitchen staff.
Other performances hit false notes, including very weak turns by Joshua Jackson and Nick Cannon as Kennedy’s campaign managers, but overall the experience is a positive one. How Moore didn’t snap her neck holding up those giant punch-bowl hairpieces is enough to hold your fascination for two hours.
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Picture-Drama; Best Original Song (“Never Gonna Break My Faith”)
Screen Actors Guild Award Nomination: Outstanding Motion Picture Cast
Toronto International Film Festival: 2006
Venice Film Festival: In Competition