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Parkland looks at personal stories of those directly involved, but not major players in, the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 and the following days. Everyone from the doctors and nurses who worked on both the President and Lee Harvey Oswald at Parkland Hospital to the Secret Service agents who ushered Abraham Zapruder to a film developing centre to see his iconic film to Oswald’s family. The all-star cast includes Paul Giamatti, Marcia Gay Harden, Zac Efron, Colin Hanks, Billy Bob Thornton, Ron Livingston, James Badge Dale and Tom Welling, to name a few.

Parkland is documenting an event in history that has already been endlessly documented, and it doesn’t shed any new light on the subject. What it does do, however, is allow the audience to engage in an interesting kind of fantasy. Based on a book of firsthand accounts, it’s fair to say that this film likely isn’t all that close to reality, and when we watch, we’re seeing images we’ve only imagined come to life. For that purpose, it is an excellent film.

The ensemble cast does an excellent job of playing their parts, but in order for this film to truly work, the entire cast would have to be unknowns. There simply isn’t enough time for character development for the audience to see these people as anything other than Paul Giamatti playing Abraham Zapruder. It boils down to little more than an engaging pastiche.

Although, note must be given to Zac Efron who acted the heck out of what boils down to approximately three minutes of dialogue in the whole film. That kid is definitely one to watch.

Is Parkland essential TIFF viewing?

If you, like most of North America, adore engaging in the adrenaline-based catharsis that is the JFK assassination and its surrounding events, you will definitely want to see this film. It is also being released in early October, so if you can’t fit it into your schedule, it’s not an emergency.

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