Rob Reiner directs LBJ, a biopic on the emergence of Lyndon Baines Johnson (played by Woody Harrelson) following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The story pivots around the then-contentious bill for the Civil Rights Act. It deals with Johnson’s struggles to have the bill passed in the face of opposition from powerful Senator Richard Russell (Richard Jenkins), hitherto a Southern ally.
The picture intersperses archival black and white footage with a representation of the drama and heartache of the time.
Woody Harrelson is a good choice to portray the irascible Johnson, who could readily straddle the requirements of the job – bluster as well as inspirational rhetoric. Jennifer Jason Leigh presents as a tower of strength, support and comfort as his wife Lady Bird. I would have been quite happy if more would have been made of that role.
I wasn’t familiar with the politics of the day, so I found it instructive if not totally absorbing.
LBJ is currently in very limited release.