Sunday, November 11, 2012

"Ethel": HBO gives us (another) new look at the Kennedys

I can't say I'm much of a Kennedy aficionado (although growing up in Massachusetts, I suppose I am by default) - but having read another great article in Vogue, I do want to see the new HBO documentary entitled "Ethel", out last month. The film is directed by Rory Kennedy, youngest daughter of Bobby and Ethel Kennedy, and gives us a new look at the famous political family:
Perhaps the bigger surprise in a Kennedy-saturated culture is just how fresh, moving, and entertaining Ethel is. The film is not a historical analysis of the Kennedys, nor is it a lurid exposé—the world certainly doesn't need more of either. What it offers instead is a uniquely vivid lens, recounting history from the inside out and placing iconic moments in the context of the larger family narrative. It was the desire to capture this perspective that convinced Rory it was time to put her mother, at 84 still an astonishing ball of energy, in front of the camera. “Not only does she have her own viewpoint on some extraordinary events but also, she's just such a character. She's very funny; she speaks truth to power and stands up to authority. She's got a lot of moxie.”
The Boston Globe gives a more mediocre review, although I must say I'm still quite intrigued...
The segment on her husband’s funeral and the train ride transporting his body to Arlington National Cemetery is notably moving. Hearing several of the children discuss how they learned of their father’s death and their response to it is very powerful. The remaining 15 minutes of the documentary seem anticlimactic. There are brief references to the death of Rory’s brother’s David, from a drug overdose, and Michael, in a skiing accident. Otherwise, the 44 subsequent years of Ethel’s pass by in a flurry of tributes to her devotion and skill as mother and how she has tended her husband’s legacy.

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