Reprinted with a couple of additional notes from the April 1993 VP.
Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hr. min. 42 min.
Our content ratings: (Scale of 10 = highest; 0 = lowest): Violence 4; Language 3; Sex/Nudity 5.
Our star rating (1-5): 4.5
This film, written by Don Roos and directed by Jonathan Kaplan, deserves to be ranked with such fine road stories as Trip to Bountiful. It also deserves far better treatment by its alleged distributors than it has received, playing without any fanfare here in Dayton for just one week (only at 10:30 PM at one of the two theaters which booked it!) and then quietly disappearing. Timidly released in just enough places to qualify its star Michelle Pfeiffer for her deserved Best Actress Academy Award nomination, the film apparently was deemed too controversial because of its interracial romance – or maybe because it lacks the vulgar language, steamy sex scenes or adrenalin-pumping violence so dear to the heart of Hollywood moguls.
Lurene Hallet, feeling out of synch with life, works in a Dallas beauty parlor and can find nothing to talk about with her beer-guzzling couch potato husband. Just as so many others worship a movie or rock star, Lurene adores the Kennedys. She keeps a scrap book of pictures and press clippings of them. She dresses and styles her blond hair like Jacqueline’s. She even lost a baby like Jackie. Lurene is in the throng at Love Field on November 22, 1963, to greet the Kennedys; she just misses getting to shake Jackie’s hand. Thus, she is devastated when the President is shot. Watching the telenews as often as she can during the next few hours, she becomes obsessed with the notion of attending the state funeral.
Over the objections of her husband she slips away from home and boards a Washington-bound Greyhound bus. She befriends a shy little black girl and her father, her kindness drawing disapproving stares from both white and black passengers. Calling himself Paul Johnson, the man is aware of this disapproval and tries to draw back. But Lurene is so naive that she senses nothing amiss. Along the way, she misjudges the scars on the little girl’s back and calls the FBI in the belief that the man is abducting her. Thus, is set into motion a chain of events that could have tragic results. However, as the three share a series of difficulties while trying to elude the police, Lurene grows in maturity, discovering that she can take charge of her life. Not everyone will agree with her decision concerning her failed marriage, but her concern for others and her struggle to find meaning in her life make us care very much about her and applaud her efforts to achieve a long-denied sense of self-worth and dignity.
Good scenes: Lurene learning from the black mechanic that her supposition that blacks must have loved Kennedy because he “did so much for your people” is an illusion. In the shed an angry Paul telling Lurene, “We are not the same!”, that there is world of difference in being a frustrated white housewife and a black person in 1963 America. And then, as her warmth melts some of his bitterness, realizing that they do indeed have many things in common, including a growing sense of love.