This past week, Americans everywhere remembered the late President John F. Kennedy, 50 years after he was killed.
In keeping with that anniversary, numerous documentaries, TV specials, and news programs were aired throughout the week on the subject of JFK and his assassination. The National Geographic Channel also aired a TV film on the subject, first aired at the start of the month. The film portrayed the events leading up to the assassination, and split the perspective between two men- JFK and his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. "Killing Kennedy" is based on a book co-written by Bill O'Reilly.
In the film, JFK is portrayed by actor Rob Lowe, and Oswald by Will Rothharr. Despite looking the part of JFK, Lowe does not sound much like Kennedy not does he deliver to the role the same authority or dignity that other actors (like Greg Kinnear, who portrayed the president in another film "The Kennedys") have brought to the role. Oswald, meanwhile, is portrayed by Rothharr, not as a crazed gunman, but someone who was just plain desperate in every way possible.
The film seems to humanize Oswald a bit more, and gives more insight into his life and struggles. The film does not seem to offer very deep insight into any of JFK's struggles with his famous wife, Jackie (Ginnifer Goodwin). Goodwin, who looks the part much like Lowe, is totally miscast as Jackie Kennedy. She does not even attempt to sound like her, and seems to be overwhelmed by the task of playing such an American icon.
Fairing better than Lowe and Goodwin is Michelle Trachtenberg (of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") who portrays Oswald's Russian-speaking wife, Marina. Granted, Trachtenberg may have had an easier task than Lowe or Goodwin, since Marina Oswald is not nearly as well-known as either JFK of Jackie, but Trachtenberg gives the character depth, and truly seems sympathetic. Marina Oswald, after all, was a very young woman with two children in a country where she did not speak the language. We can only imagine what it was like for her to be told that her husband was accused of murdering the president.
In the film, Lee Harvey and Marina Oswald come off as more interesting than either JFK of Jackie. Both Rothhaar and Trachtenberg steal the movie, offering performances far superior to either of the better-known actors playing JFK or Jackie.
While the film portrays Oswald as the lone killer of Kennedy, it also seems to downplay the legend of JFK itself, and simply portrays two men, from opposite ends of the social spectrum, and their eventual date with destiny.
Unfortunately, this film does not live up to the legend we have all become so familiar with.