LBJ
Directed by Rob Reiner
3/5 Stars
By LEO BENNETT

 

There are some moments in history that can never be forgotten. One of those moments occurred on the 22nd of November 1963, when US President John F. Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas, Texas. His junior, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as President aboard the presidential plane Air Force One only hours after JFK’s death. This film explores the man and story behind that man, that was Lyndon B Johnson.

A compelling performance by Woody Harrelson in this film brings to life the man that was President Johnson. The controversy of his actions are intensified through Harrelson’s performance and gives viewers insight into President Johnson’s life as a politician. Unfortunately, the work that the films crew went to in order for Harrellson to have any resemblance to President Johnson takes away from Harrellson’s performance. A performance by Jennifer Jason Leigh as Lady Bird Johnson allowed for a genuine relationship between the two.

However, despite the wonderful casting, overall, the film leaves much to be desired. While some aspects of the film feel new, and convincing, as a whole it felt too broad and simplistic. The film looks closely at a few moments of President Johnson’s political life without offering much substance or insight into many other important moments, instead choosing to mention these within the credits. Even the events that the film did look at did not seem developed and left me wanting more information.

In the past few years President Johnson has been the subject of many a film including Jay Roach’s ‘All The Way’ and Ava DuVernay’s ‘Selma’, unlike these films LBJ did not seem to have any opinion on Johnson as a man. It did not focus on important aspects of his personality or political career, the film, to an extent, does not do justice the accomplishments and flaws of President Johnson.

Prior to watching LBJ I did not have extensive knowledge on who President Johnson was and to be honest not much has changed after watching the film. I felt that there were many aspects of Johnson’s life that were glossed over and at times I was not certain as to what was going on. I would suggest doing some background reading on LBJ before watching the film, in particular his role as vice-president and even prior to that. Background knowledge on who President Johnson was will go a long way in deciding how much you enjoy this film.

LBJ is not a film that I would recommend for date night, a group hangout or even a night alone. Only on a rare occasion would I suggest that LBJ is the perfect film to watch, and even then there’s always a better option if you’re looking for a film focusing on American politics. If this is a film that you do decide to watch remember to educate yourself before you make the same mistake I did.

Leo loves politics and whitewater kayaking. Don’t get him started on football, you won’t get a word in edgeways. Wants to be Harry Potter. You can check out more of his work below:

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