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If you were alive in 1963, you know exactly where you were when you heard President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas. If you weren’t alive, the event and its impact may seem mythical. “Parkland,” Peter Landesman’s well-made but dramatically unfocused re-creation of that November day and its aftermath, has the effect of reminding the first audience and teaching the second just how seismically awful it all felt.
Focusing on doctors, nurses, Secret Service agents, and average Dallas citizens, the movie is about civic trauma, but it steadfastly refuses to cohere into a larger point. The large and busy cast includes Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton, Ron Livingston, James Badge Dale, and Jacki Weaver.