This film stirs us. CIA and FBI reports on Kennedy's assassination are sealed until most of us die. Why can't we have the information our government gathered for us on the death of our president? Garrison's investigation was pitiful, underfunded, and sabotaged; where are better investigations by Oliver Stone's attackers?
A 1979 Senate Committee said Kennedy's assassination was probably a conspiracy. Why hasn't the case been reopened? We see the key elements of the 1963 events: the shooting; Air Force One flying to D.C., Jack Ruby murdering Oswald; and Garrison in New Orleans, watching the same stuff, then learning that various fringe groups there, pro- and anti-Castro, were somehow with CIA and various self-appointed soldiers in a conspiracy to kill JFK.
The investigation leads to Clay Shaw, a businessman linked to Oswald and other possible conspirators. Some witnesses die suspiciously, but Garrison sues Shaw. He loses, but is convinced he's onto something. Did Shaw perjure himself? In 1979, five years after Shaw's death and 10 years after the trial, CIA head Richard Helms admits that Shaw, despite sworn denials, was a CIA employee. Garrison seems an irresponsible hothead who destroyed an innocent man if you don't know Shaw perjured himself. Stone gives Garrison a measure of credibility, as the film seeks even greater truth.
As Garrison, Costner can't let go; he forges ahead, insisting there's more than meets the eye. An astonishing cast give the uncanny impression we're seeing historical figures: David Ferrie (Pescie), the squirmy, hyperkenetic, alleged getaway pilot; Clay Shaw (Lee-Jones); Lee Harvey Oswald (Oldman); "X" (played by Sutherland, actually Fletcher Prouty, the high-placed Pentagon official who thinks he knows why JFK was killed; Mrs. Garrison (Spacek), fearing for her family and marriage. And Lemmon, Asner, Matthau. and Bacon in small, key roles, their faces vaguely familiar behind their characters' facades.((Stone and editors Joe Hutshing and Pietro Scalia have triumphed over the tumult of material, and made it grip and disturb us. The film's achievement is that it tries to marshal the anger which ever since 1963 has been gnawing away on some dark shelf of the national psyche. John F. Kennedy was murdered. Lee Harvey Oswald could not have acted alone. Who acted with him? Who knew more?
Kevin Costner, Sissy Spacek
Assassination of President John F. Kennedy; conspiracy
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