Andrea’s film review – JFK Revisited: through the looking glass

JFK Revisited: through the looking glass ⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Declassified files related to President Kennedy’s assassination in a far larger context, aiming to shine more light on what really happened in 1963. Out November 26 in selected cinemas.

Oliver Stone is clearly obsessed by the conspiracy theories surrounding the shooting of the 35th president of the United States. His beautifully crafted JFK in 1991, mainly remembered for its breath-taking and very flashy editing, seamlessly blended archive from the time with re-created footage.

The result was a powerful, though at times slightly preachy movie, which obviously because the nature of the real events left a lot of questions unanswered and a strong feeling that facts had been covered up.

Now, thirty years on, taking advantage of some recently declassified pieces of evidence, he takes us back to 1963 and that fateful moment on November 22nd, to show us that what we call “conspiracy theories” are actually “conspiracy facts”. But this time he’s making a real documentary about it.

The first nine minutes of JFK Revisited are absolutely stunning: a real masterclass in storytelling through editing. Real footage and news reports from the time are skilfully put together without the aid of any additional commentary, just voices from the past and music. It is both emotional and economical in the way it recaps everything you need to know to catch up with the basic story. A truly beautiful start.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the rest of the film.

Oliver Stone is so keen to tell us everything he knows about the subject, that sometimes he seems to forget to decide whether he should actually tell us it all. Believe me Oliver, not everything is an interesting as you think.

The documentary is so packed with facts and information, related at breath-taking speed, that at some point you feel your head might just explode. Not that it’s hard to follow, but after a while you begin to wonder whether any of this is actually leading up to anything.

And you know what? The sad answer is no. I’m as much in the dark as I was before. And so, what’s the point in making another film (for the big screen too!) if all you do is speculating and just adding fire to the conspiracies?

There are no real answers, no great reveals, no shocking truths.

As the film goes on, especially in its second half, it all just spirals even more out of control, adding subplots of little interest, confusing things even more and even switching voiceovers. At times it’s Oliver Stone himself telling the facts, other times Whoopi Goldberg (how random) and towards the end a very old sounding Donald Sutherland takes over.

Stone also packs a lot of extraneous stuff into the story in an attempt to tell us how the murder of JFK had global implications. At which point I completely tuned out and started counting the minutes to the end, but when that finally came, it even took me by surprise: “oh… is that it?” I asked myself.

A frustrating experience: a great beginning, an interesting (though messy) middle and basically no end. It really doesn’t gel together as a whole film, it feels more like an extra feature that should be added onto the original JFK DVD and Blu-ray.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

JFK Revisited: through the looking glass is in selected cinemas from 26 November. Check out the Curzon Bloomsbury.

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See also: November Books – Reviews by Annakarin Klerfalk

See also: Aladdin at the Lyric, Hammersmith – Review

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Out in November 26 in selected cinemas
Check out the Curzon Bloomsbury