I didn't know JFK was assasinated in Dallas. That is, until I went to Dallas and found myself standing in the very spot where it happened. They say travelling broadens the mind, but it also helps you catch up on your history. I know now that John F. Kennedy was killed in downtown Dallas, on Elm Street, on November 22, 1963, and that Lee Harvey Oswald fired three shots from the sixth floor window of the Book Depository. And that was all without cheating. I hope I got my facts right.
I had heard of the miniseries before, and was kind of interested in watching it, but didn't make it my priority until I knew I would be going to Washington DC soon. I thought I would get the more out of the visit the more I knew about the history of the place. And luckily in this day and age we don't have to read books to learn history, we can just watch a movie or a miniseries and be just as wise! Oh, wonderful world. So, I watched the eight-part series before and after the trip, and yes, they indeed complemented each other quite nicely. I just get a huge kick out of watching a movie or something and seeing a place where I've personally been. (At times I so wished there'd been someone watching with me, because I wanted to act smart! Like when Jackie visits Jack's grave in the Arlington Cemetary (assuming that the scene was actually shot on location), they use only certain camera angles to hide the tomb stone on JFK's left, saying Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (okay, that I had to cheat).)
I enjoyed the series (and not only for the joy of feeling smart and well-travelled). Sometimes the politics talk might have been a bit too much for me, but I just let it go over my head, waiting for the next scene looking at the family dynamics and relationships. I'm sure the series is not 100% truthful in portraying the members of the Kennedy family, but I trust it to have given more than a clue about what was going on inside the white walls of the President's house. It was quite entertaining, and interesting, the script was quite excellent, and the camerawork and visual side very pleasing to the eye, too. I liked the use of old, actual recordings, mixed with new material.
I first had some serious problems with Greg Kinnear as JFK. Just because I kept associating him with Little Miss Sunshine, and as much as I love that movie it doesn't do much good in taking someone seriously as a president. I got over it soon, however, because Kinnear did quite a solid job, and his presence is totally transformed from the horrible father who tells his 10-year-old daughter not to be a loser. Also, Katie Holmes was a very pleasant surprise! I don't usually enjoy her work too much, and she often lacks depth, but as Jackie she is vulnerable yet strong, and it works beautifully. She had my sympathies.
The one who stole the whole show to me, however, was Barry Pepper's Bobby. For me, Pepper has always stolen the show, in whatever small roles I've seen him in, from The Green Mile to Saving Provate Ryan and Flags of Our Fathers. There's just something so real and authentic and sincere about him. He better get some awards for this role, he's been underrated for too long. He made it official: Bobby is my favorite Kennedy! I don't know why, but I always found Bobby's fate more tragic than Jack's. And I don't know if it's the truth or the portrayal or just me, but Bobby definitely turned out to be the hero of The Kennedys, and series left me with a pretty deep admiration and respect for Robert Kennedy. And Barry Pepper. You can't give any awards to Bobby anymore, so give some to Barry! He made me cry, damn it. Not that that's too unusual.
The villain of the story, for me, was definitely the father, Joe Kennedy. (Along with Marilyn Monroe, just because she was portrayed so poorly. Maybe it's unfair for the actress, Charlotte Sullivan, but after forgetting what the real Marilyn Monroe actually looks like when watching Michelle Williams in the said role, poor Ms. Sullivan's Monroe was kind of a sorry attempt.) Sure, I felt sorry for him at times, but that tyrannical, unhealthy obsession he had about making his son, any son, President, made me loathe him, and frankly point the finger straight at him when we start talking about blame.
"You’re going to be President. Because you’re a Kennedy. And Kennedys never come in second."