Film review – Bobby (2006)

Bobby depicts the coming and goings in the Ambassador Hotel on the day that US Senator Robert F Kennedy was assassinated. Like recent films Crash and Syriana, Bobby contains multiple storylines and a huge high profile cast.

The Ambassador Hotel, where Kennedy was shot, becomes a microcosm of America in 1968; whether it is the retired doormen (Anthony Hopkins) reminiscing about the changing times or the young girl (Lindsay Lohan) marrying her classmate (Elijah Wood) to prevent him from being sent to Vietnam.

In the hotel’s kitchen the interaction between Caucasian manager (Christian Slater), African-American chef (Laurence Fishburne) and Mexican busboys (Freddy Rodríguez and Jacob Vargas) says more about racial relations in America than Crash did in all its smug simplicity. On the other hand, Ashton Kutcher’s woefully inept performance as an acid-guru is an embarrassing representation of hippy culture and the film’s glaring weak point.

Writer, director and actor Emilio Estevez clearly idolises Kennedy and his representation of the senator as America’s last hope is perhaps naive. But most of the characters are compelling, although not all necessary, and despite being overly earnest Bobby is a stirring tribute to a more idealistic and hopeful period of American history.

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 273, 2007

© Thomas Caldwell, 2007