Less an exploration of John F. Kennedy the man and president than an extended, talking-head-filled lament on what’s happened to American politics since November 1963 (not much good, is the unsurprising conclusion), clipmeister Chuck Workman’s "In Search of Kennedy" proves at once illuminating and frustrating.

Less an exploration of John F. Kennedy the man and president than an extended, talking-head-filled lament on what’s happened to American politics since November 1963 (not much good, is the unsurprising conclusion), clipmeister Chuck Workman’s “In Search of Kennedy” proves at once illuminating and frustrating. This won’t impact global tube sales and ancillary action, which will be brisk on the universal appeal of the subject.

Pic is organized into five chapters: “The Myth,” “The President,” “The Present,” “The World” and “The Legacy.” In typical Workman fashion, the helmer has uncovered some rare footage of Kennedy at work and at play. Yet these pictures are meted out sparingly, jostling for screen time with some 52 new and 20 archival interview soundbites from politicos, journos, historians and celebs, sprinkled with vox populi musings. “I admired him,” says one man, neatly summing up a key sentiment, “but I didn’t vote for him.” Tech package is slick, with Workman still a go-to guy for precious images. Shrewdly chosen tunes include the Cure’s “Pictures of You,” Miles Davis’ “Enigma” and, inevitably, Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young.” Closing credits begin with a board of advisers.

In Search of Kennedy

Production

A Calliope Films production. (International sales: Calliope Films, Beverly Hills.) Produced by Stephen J. Kern, Chuck Workman. Co-producer, Paul Puskar. Directed, written, edited by Chuck Workman.

Crew

Camera (color), John Sharaf, Miguelangel Aponte. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Documentaries of the World), Aug. 30, 2008. English, German, Spanish dialogue. Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Alec Baldwin, Elizabeth Pena, Norman Mailer, Robert Dallek, James Carville.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more