Parkland is a dramatic retelling of the events surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, set in the titular hospital where he was taken after being shot. The film follows a number of characters as they grapple with the emotional fallout from the assassination, including the medical staff who worked to save the president's life, the Secret Service agents assigned to protect him, and the various individuals who became involved in the investigation that ensued.
At the center of the film's story is Parkland Memorial Hospital, where Kennedy was taken following the shooting. The hospital staff, including nurse Doris Nelson (played by Marcia Gay Harden) and surgeon Dr. Charles Carrico (played by Zac Efron), must rally to try to save the president's life, even as they realize the gravity of his injuries. Meanwhile, the Secret Service realizes that the shooter may still be at large, and agent Forrest Sorrels (played by Billy Bob Thornton) must race to protect the vice president and other officials who are also in Dallas for the president's visit.
In addition to these central characters, the film also follows a number of others who became embroiled in the events of that day. These include Abraham Zapruder (played by Paul Giamatti), the businessman who unwittingly captured the assassination on film, and Robert Oswald (played by James Badge Dale), the brother of Lee Harvey Oswald, who find themselves caught up in the investigation in very different ways.
One of the standout performances in the film comes from Jacki Weaver, who plays Marguerite Oswald, Lee Harvey Oswald's mother. Weaver's portrayal of Marguerite is complex and haunting, capturing the desperation and delusion that fueled her son's actions and highlighting the devastating impact that his actions had on those around him.
Despite the weighty subject matter, Parkland is at its core a deeply human film, focused not just on the events themselves, but on the people who were impacted by them. The film's various subplots all intersect in fascinating and unexpected ways, painting a rich and nuanced portrait of a community grappling with national tragedy. Through it all, the film is anchored by strong performances from its ensemble cast, who bring emotional depth and complexity to their roles.
Director Peter Landesman has crafted a film that is both a meditation on history and a poignant tribute to the individuals who lived through it. By focusing on the human stories behind the assassination, Parkland manages to shed new light on a well-known event, offering a fresh perspective on a pivotal moment in American history.
Parkland is a 2013 history movie. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.4 and a MetaScore of 51.