Performed in theaters today and on the Showtime streaming app, and aired on Showtime on the anniversary of the assassination on November 22e, “JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass” is a comprehensive and at times exhausting documentary, a film that can at times give the impression that it is teeming with information and detail that Stone has lost his way through this dense forest of theories of the plot. At its best, it’s a reminder of how tightly Stone can put a movie like this together as he convincingly demonstrates that some things about the JFK assassination don’t match up. At worst, it can feel like a drunken conversation, moving wildly from point to point in a way that leaves you with no time to stop and ask relevant questions. One thing is true either way, it’s never boring. And our true crime-obsessed age looks set to revisit one of the most notorious crimes of all time.
Stone was smart to split “JFK Revisited” into two hour-long chapters – it begs the question if he wasn’t considering making it a docuseries instead of a movie. The first half, narrated by Stone and Whoopi Goldberg, focuses heavily on the evidence from that day in 1963 – ballistics, exit wounds, reports of people who saw Kennedy’s body. Was the entry of the bullet wounded in the back, as the Warren Commission asserted, or in the front, as several witnesses asserted after seeing the body? Why are memories of Kennedy’s brain state different from photographs? And how can you explain the recovered bullet that allegedly passed through Kennedy and hit John Connally looking almost pristine when it was recovered? Stone’s approach consists of superimposing inconsistency on inconsistency. Some don’t amount to much – a witness won’t be able to recall exactly how long it took them to descend the stairs of the book depot on a good day, let alone a historic day – but there is a disturbing feeling that, at the very least, errors were made in the investigation. (Only the chain of custody of some evidence was clearly flawed.)
The second half of “JFK Revisited”, narrated by Donald Sutherland (who played a central role in “JFK”), isn’t as strong as it feels more rushed and delves into some of the craziest ideas with less. of concentration. In this half, Stone sets out to provide the motives for an assassination and cover-up, essentially pointing fingers at the CIA. He flies into the den of history, compiling stories about Castro, Vietnam, and the military-industrial complex in a way that feels haphazard at times, then ends far too abruptly, suggesting that the conspiracy and assassination are destroying the fabric of society without really digging into what that means in 2021.