Movie Review: “LBJ”

Movie Review

“LBJ”

RELEASE DATE:  November 3, 2017
MPAA RATING:  R (for language)

The film “LBJ” is receiving mixed reviews, with many critics finding fault with the Rob Reiner-directed biopic that stars Woody Harrelson in the title role.  While some may find the effort to be pedantic given the intricacies of the person and the circumstances, what Reiner has delivered is a concise character study of a politician who yearned to possess the power of the position, but who was undoubtedly haunted by how his was achieved. 

Then vice-president Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) inherited the United State presidency, the Constitutional result of the tragic assassination of John F. Kennedy on the fateful autumn day in Dallas on November 22, 1963. 

Harrelson does an admirable job embracing the persona of Johnson, yet it is challenging not to compare his portrayal with that of Bryan Cranston in both the Broadway and HBO productions of “All the Way.”   

There are some very strong supporting players in “LBJ,” and standout among them are Jennifer Jason Leigh as Johnson’s wife, Lady Bird; Jeffrey Donovan as John F. Kennedy; Michael Stahl-David as Attorney General Bobby Kennedy; and Richard Jenkins as Senator Richard Russell, a one-time ally of Johnson who goes toe-to-toe with the President when Johnson champions his predecessor’s historic Civil Rights Act, which became law in 1964. 

At a running time of just over an hour-and-a-half, “LBJ” is a well-paced cinematic offering worthy of an audience.