DIRECTOR: Jon Cassar
NOT A PART OF OUR COLLECTION
May Contain Spoilers!
Will we be adding this to our collection? NO
This 8 Part, though here in the U.K. sown as 4 feature-length episodes, was meant to be a definitive, new interpretation of the fabled Kennedys, the U.S. political dynasty, most famous for the assignations of John F. Kennedy (Greg Kinnear) in 1963 and his brother, Robert (Barry Pepper) in 1968 as he had just won the Californian Primary.
But there’s a lot more to this family that just these two iconic and century defining events. Kennedy is often heralded as reformer, a social hero paving the way for equal rights and world peace, but it was in his second year of office that the world came as close as it ever has to global Armageddon with The Cuban Missile Crisis, a story told so much better in Roger Donaldson’s, Kevin Costner led thriller, Thirteen Days (2000) a decade earlier. The assignation was poorly conveyed but again, this is because it hard to keep retelling the same story without it becoming trite, but Oliver Stone’s JFK is the most compelling version of those event, true, false or just paranoid though his film may be.
But The Kennedy’s story begins not with John or Bobby, but with Joseph P. Kennedy (Tom Wilkinson) who is the glue which held this fragile series together with a solid performance as the pushy and sometimes malevolent patriarch of the clan, pushing his children into politics to fulfil his own failed destiny as President of The United States. But when his eldest son is killed in action in the second world war, the burden falls to John who takes on the role.
But whilst playing up some new angles, this is a reverential work, afraid to denigrate the family in any real sense and with a family like this, it’s hard not too. They are a political dynasty, with vices, dirty methods and schemes. In many ways, this should have played out more like Dallas and it would have felt more believable. The worst that we see from Joe Kennedy seems to be his manipulation of Jackie (Katie Holmes) into playing the good loyal wife to John’s cheating ways, a life style which he shares with his son.
Overall, this needed to be so much more that what it is. It glosses over so much drama, probably because it would create an uproar in the U.S. but loses its soul in the process. It’s fake, not real in many ways, as summed by the poster, with John and Robert posing in this serous, “the weight of word in our shoulders” pose, whilst Jackie looks glamorous. A lot was made of Holmes’ Jackie Kennedy in the build up to this and she really did little besides look like her and put on a decent accent but unless you were Tom Wilkinson with freedom to steal the show, or Kinnear or Pepper with their intently earnest impressions of the two martyred brothers, then there was little to challenge her.
There’s no doubt about the sheer good that the Kennedy brothers and their administrations did for the world, literally with the Cuban Missile Crisis and socially with their legacy and of course we would never have gone to moon with Kennedy’s backing, but this mockery of a series does them no justice at all. Thirteen Days and JFK offer much more tangible and realistic thesis’ on what these events were about than this series, which hasn’t even got what it takes to be Dallas!