RFK (FX, Aug. 25, 8 p.m. E.T.) at least focuses on the less familiar monogram: that of Robert Francis Kennedy (Linus Roache), who was a Mob-busting Attorney General and cold warrior under his brother, then ran for President on an antiwar, civil rights platform in 1968, only to be cut down himself. (His years as A.G. fly by during the credits, like scenes from another movie.) And the film poses some intriguing questions: Was R.F.K. a cold opportunist or a born-again idealist? What made him run?
The answers are believable pat, even but unsatisfying. Robert, RFK muses, feared that he "caused" his brother's murder by antagonizing the Mob or the Cubans, even that he subconsciously wished for his brother's death. (All this is hashed out in overwrought "debates"--which take place in R.F.K.'s head between Roache and Martin Donovan as the ghost of J.F.K.) Did Robert want the presidency for himself? For his family? The standard answer, given here, is that, moved by Vietnam and urban unrest, he grew to want it for all of us. But his transformation feels mechanical, dictated by the needs of the movie. Roache does capture R.F.K.'s brash outer persona rather than do a mere impersonation. But, as for Kennedy's inner life, after two hours, has anybody here seen our old friend Bobby? Hardly at all.