11.22.63 movie full length review - Stephen King story, what if we could change the past?
This is an 8-episode series that we watched streaming on HULU. Based on the Stephen King book, it examines the fantasy of going back in time to correct a key event that changed history.
The title is a reference to the event, November 22, 1963, when President Kennedy (JFK) was assassinated while traveling in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. I remember the event well, I was a freshman in college. Kennedy in his short time in office was considered as becoming a great president, and his vision and speech gave the USA the impetus to put a man on the moon before the decade was over, and that happened in 1969.
So this story starts in modern times when Jake (James Franco) is at his favorite diner and the owner, Al (Chris Cooper) disappears for two minutes then returns old and sick, Jake and the audience are puzzled. It turns out that a closet in Al's diner leads to a time portal that dumps the person onto the street in 1960. Oddly, no matter how much time may pass in the present the time traveler always ends up going back to the same day, and importantly, any repeat trips back cause the past to revert to its original state no matter what might have been changed.
Al has been studying JFK's legacy and death and is convinced that if someone can go back and stop the assassination then things would have turned out much better during subsequent years. He is too old and sick now, he talks Jake into going. To do so he has to live in the past for 3 years, preparing himself by getting some evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald really was the shooter, then stop him.
Against Al's warnings Jake gets involved in the past, he meets pretty Sadie (Sarah Gadon) and takes a great liking to her. They fall in love. A running theme is "if you mess with the past, the past will mess with you." Meaning it will be hard to change what had happened, and unwise choices will get you in trouble.
The other key character is Daniel Webber as Lee Harvey Oswald, and he does it well. History and investigations tell us with a great degree of confidence that Oswald was a lone wolf that did the assassination. This series does a good job recreating the time and mood.
My wife had read the book a couple of years earlier, we both enjoyed this 8-episode series.
SPOILERS: When 11-22-63 was rolling around Jake was getting a bead on Oswald, things didn't go smoothly but he and Sadie made it to the book depository in Dealey Plaza. Oswald got off one shot that missed then Jake prevented him from shooting anymore. In the struggle both Oswald and Sadie were killed. Jake managed to get off without being charged but when he returned to the present he found his old familiar world in ruins. It turned out that with JFK serving out his term then getting elected for another, then George Wallace becoming president, the whole world turned out much worse. Moral - don't mess with the past. So he decided to go back to 1960, everything had re- set, he met Sadie again but this time chose to let her live without him so she would survive. He returned to a restored present, and soon read about Sadie, now perhaps in her 80s, being honored and he was able to see her, and dance with her, with the memories only he had.