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FX's 'RFK' Biopic Is A-OK

Linus Roache's outstanding performance as Robert F. Kennedy makes FX's original movie RFK
a riveting drama. Roache looks and sounds like RFK and — more importantly — he captures the man. For those familiar with the news coverage of the Kennedy family, Roache even nails the little things, like brushing his fingers through his tousled hair, as RFK often did.

Besides presenting his public persona, producers Robert Cooper and Tom Patricia offer behind-the-scenes looks at the rancor between RFK and Lyndon B. Johnson (James Cromwell), the accuracy of which is corroborated by Dick Goodwin, a key adviser to both men and a consultant on this project.

Directed by Robert Dornhelm from a script by Hank Steinberg, the film focuses on the last five years of RFK's life. Within the first five minutes, we see Bobby at his Virginia home receiving the call informing him that his brother, President John F. Kennedy, has been assassinated. He wants the government to explore possible links to the Giancana mob family, Jimmy Hoffa and Cuba.

In subsequent talks with aides, Bobby reveals his internal conflicts: "I feel like I'm supposed to pick up the torch for Jack." Only later, as U.S. Senator from New York, does he find his own voice — fighting poverty and opposing the Vietnam War.

One device that works here, at least better than it does on NBC's Providence, is having Bobby talk to his brother's spirit. In one such conversation, JFK (Martin Donovan) says one of their past adversaries may have had him slain. RFK replies, "I didn't get you killed."

That harkens back to the quick-cut opening segment depicting Kennedy Administration milestones, from civil rights to the Cuban missile crisis — accompanied by an RFK mantra, "I'll take care of it."

In early 1968 events start to accelerate: LBJ removes himself from the presidential campaign and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated. But RFK's assassination on the night of the California primary is so abbreviated that Sirhan Sirhan isn't even depicted.

bows on FX Aug. 25 at 8 p.m.