Thirteen Days

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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.

By: TCh

Release details

Duration: 145 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Roger Donaldson
Screenwriter: David Self
Cast: Kevin Costner
Bruce Greenwood
Steven Culp
Dylan Baker
Michael Fairman
Henry Strozier
Frank Wood
Kevin Conway
Tim Kelleher
Len Cariou
Ed Lauter

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

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I think the title and the casting were felicitous.I thought it a good docu-drama,film as history lesson,albeit from onje side, Kennedy's Camelot..The Kennedys are almost nasally accurate and Costner for once is not at the centre of the drama,although we see scenes with his family.This plays out like a game of poker at a high level,where all the legalistic nuances of international deadlock,the parry and thrust of claim and counter claim ,show us how strategically Kennedy took us all to the brink.The film seemed very long but not boring.