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Movie review: Moments of heroism in 'Parkland,' but no complete picture

Published October 5, 2013 6:33 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The historical drama "Parkland" proves that sometimes a mosaic, no matter how interesting the pieces, fails to form a complete picture.

Writer-director Peter Landesman, a journalist making his feature-film debut, aims to tell stories of ordinary people caught up in the events in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

These include the Parkland Memorial Hospital emergency-room staff (portrayed by Zac Efron, Colin Hanks and Marcia Gay Harden) who worked to save the president's life; the Secret Service chief (Billy Bob Thornton) on whose watch the shooting happened; the FBI agent (Ron Livingston) who had been tracking Lee Harvey Oswald and let him get away; Robert Oswald (James Badge Dale), Lee's brother, shocked to learn what his brother had done; and Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti), the garment manufacturer whose 8mm footage of the assassination became the most-watched home movie ever.

Landesman depicts the bits of ordinary heroism and the seeds of decades of conspiracy-theory talk, such as the rantings of Oswald's mother (Jacki Weaver) or Zapruder's desire to withhold frames of his film. But while "Parkland" has many fascinating moments, it doesn't add up to a compelling whole.

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Opens Friday, Oct. 4, at area theaters; rated PG-13 for bloody sequences of ER trauma procedures, some violent images and language, and smoking throughout; 93 minutes.