Donaldson's film of the Cuban Missile Crisis sticks entirely to the view from Washington, DC - or more accurately, to the perspective of Kenny O'Donnell, special assistant to President Kennedy. His approach pays legitimate dramatic dividends: Because we have no idea what strategic advisors are thinking in Moscow or Havana, we're fully immersed in Kennedy's dilemma. He's faced with blanket assurances from his military chiefs of staff that only a pre-emptive strike can avert disaster, despite his own natural disinclination to kickstart World War III. The film recounts a blind poker game played for the very highest stakes. It's also a kind of American Civil War movie fought between the reactionary right and conscience-stricken liberals within the confines of the Oval Office. Donaldson and screenwriter David Self sift the debates judiciously. It's easy to forget that we know how it's going to come out, and Greenwood makes a credible job of JFK. Against that, domestic scenes with Costner's nasal O'Donnell and his family are sentimental and redundant, arbitrary switches from monochrome to colour are a distracting flourish, and the score is altogether too rhapsodic. It's engrossing all the same to watch how we bluffed our way to the brink. (From the book The Kennedy Tapes, edited by Ernest R May, Philip D Zelikow.) TCh.