LBJ – A Review by Cynthia Flores
LBJ is about one of the greatest Texans ever to be in the White House. The film shows us Lyndon B. Johnson (Woody Harrelson) and his wife, Lady Bird Johnson (Jennifer Jason Leigh), as they navigate the halls of politics before his unsuccessful run to be the 1960 Democratic nominee for President. He lost to the youthful, good-looking John F. Kennedy (Jeffery Donovan). Afterwards, much to the chagrin of Bobbie Kennedy (Michael Stahl-David), Lyndon then accepted his offer to be his Vice-President.
The film makes great use of its visual decision to intercut between the infamous presidential motorcade ride in Dallas and everything that brought LBJ to the point of not having as much power as he did as Majority Leader in the Senate when he accepted being vice president. I really liked how much information they were able to compactly fit into the story by doing this.
The rest of the film centers on the upheaval that LBJ faced in November 1963 when he was made President by that assassin’s bullet. The film shows the political battles on both sides of the aisle that he had to deal with. As a southerner of that time, he surprised a lot of people as he worked to heal a nation and secure his presidency by passing Kennedy’s historic Civil Rights Act.
I really enjoyed LBJ for the most part. The only misstep that really stands out is the casting of Jennifer Jason Leigh as Lady Bird Johnson. Both she and Harrelson had to use prosthetics to look like their characters. Woody’s looked great but Jennifer's did not. There is a scene when they are talking in bed and she is comforting him. I do not know if it was the lighting or what, but it looked like she just had a big glob of putty stuck to the end of her face. It was really distracting. Her part was not so large that they had to have a famous actress do it. I think they would have done much better casting a nobody that actually looked like Lady Bird and could speak in a thick Hollywood version of a Texas accent.
The best part of this film for me was Woody Harrelson’s portrayal of our 36th president. He gets lost in the part and should be in consideration for best actor once awards season comes around. LBJ is artfully directed and a strong film so I give it a solid B+ as a Good Movie to watch.
Directed by Rob Reiner
Written By Joey Hartstone
Selig Rating B+
Running Time 98 min
Release Wide Nov 3rd
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Richard Jenkins, Bill Pullman, Kim Allen, Michael Stahl-David, Jennifer Jason Leigh, C. Thomas Howell, Jeffery Donovan
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.