Posted: 04/24/2004


The Last Kennedy


by Del Harvey

Psychological drama tracks the lives of Walter Lee Fitzgerald and his wife Linda through a government conspiracy centered on changing the outcome of a future presidential election.

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The Last Kennedy attempts to examine the minds of the common folk who would change history, the candidate at risk and the conspirators manipulating the buttons. The story is told from the perspective of Linda Fitzgerald, an unwitting pawn in a much larger plot, thus completing the concept of an American tragedy. As Estelle Kennedy mourns the death of her father, leading presidential candidate Reverend Franklin Kennedy, an influential and inspirational African American leader is gunned down a mere one day before the presidential elections.

The suspect in the case is Walter Lee Fitzgerald, who has already taken his own life and that of his wife Linda, completing the standard murder-suicide circle. The world is both shocked and appalled by this turn of events, and emotions run high, accusations run rampant after Walter Lee has been tried and hung in the press. His infamy is that of a mentally disturbed man who single-handedly took the life of yet another potentially great leader. But the film presents a much different reality of the events through the eyes of Walter’s wife Linda as she struggles to understand her husband’s sudden and tragic transformation from normal citizen to that of a stammering, robotic killer after being abducted, drugged and psychologically manipulated.

The key to the intrigue lies within the actor’s power and the director’s control, and both are exhibited to full potential in The Last Kennedy. A bit heavy at times, the film’s saving grace are its flowing style and truly genuine actors, who put themselves into their character’s situations with thoughtful embodiment. Darla Rothman, as Linda, and Richard Culver, as Walter, are the lynchpins to the film’s success, and their authentic portrayals make all the difference here. Rothman and Culver were also producer and director, respectively, and their dedication to the piece as a whole should be well-noted by any young filmmaker.

The Last Kennedy is an indie success thanks to it adherence to the political thriller’s timeworn but true adage that knowledge is a powerful tool. It is why countries go to war and governments overthrown. By sticking to the truth, Rothman and Culver have made a small gem into a fairly powerful film, well worth viewing.

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Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, and teaches screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago.

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