Gravitas literally drips off the screen during “Parkland,” director Peter Landesman’s impressionistic look at the three days surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Somber music spills from the soundtrack, people fret and pray while Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley pontificate on “one of the more horrible days in American history.”
Trouble is, there’s no story.
Instead, it’s a character study of the folks, from the doctors and nurses at Parkland Memorial who tried to save JFK’s life (Zak Efron, Colin Hanks and Marcia Gay Harden) to secret service and law enforcement officers on the scene (Billy Bob Thornton, Ron Livingston) to Lee Harvey Oswald’s family (James Badge Dale, Jacki Weaver) to the reporters who broke the story (Mark Duplass) and the man who took the most famous images of the shooting, Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti).
It’s a sprawling cast who all vie for enough screen time to make an impact in this fast moving but ultimately ineffective study of the time.
The period details are all in place, and Giamatti, Dale and Thornton shine, but former journalist-turned-director Landesman’s lack of a point of view adds nothing to this often told tale.