JFK

Oliver Stone, USA, 1991, 189 minutes

Oliver Stone's infatuation with political cinema (Salvador, Platoon, Born on the 4th of July), continues with an overambitious attempt to scrutinize and ultimately to lash out at the American Government and the CIA on the scandal of President Kennedy's mysterious assassination and its cover up.

District Attorney in New Orleans, Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) undertakes the investigation of the assassination of JFK. Through his puzzle-solving process, he's led to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald had been used as a scapegoat and that the CIA and the military were deeply involved in the conspiracy against President Kennedy.

Stone has constructed here a complex maze of overlapping networks of information which Jim Garrison has to trace. Blending uniquely myth and reality, the director comes to reinforce the prevalent attitude on the issue which openly embraces the idea of a conspiracy. The use of archive material gives to the film, through the rapid and ostentatious editing techniques, an almost semi-documentary character.

At points, though, Stone succumbs to naive sentimentality which under the label of patriotism, leans on the threshold of pretentiousness. The scenes with Garrison making a mess out of his family life for the sake of truth spoil what otherwise would have been a truly astonishing film. Indeed, one often wonders why he used an excellent actress such as Sissy Spacek as Gairison's wife, only in order to participate in a short, repetitious, and ultimately dull role.

Kevin Costner does not deviate from the sort of acting he became famous for, while additionally, Gary Oldman and Joe Pesci give brilliant performances. The cameos from Donald Sutherland and Jack Lemmon verify Stone's eclecticism in the choice of his actors.

Undoubtedly, a very impressive film especially due to the fact that after 190 minutes of viewing, one is left with a desire for more. And that's quite an achievement.

Review by Spiros Gangas
Taken from EUFS Programme 1992-93