June 17, 1991 12:00 PM

HBO (Sun., June 16, 9 P.M. ET)


Beau Bridges stars as Brady, the presidential press secretary gravely wounded in the head during John Hinckley’s 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.

To its credit, the docudrama doesn’t put a sugar-coated sentimental spin on the story. Even before the shooting, the protagonist is cast in a less-than-sym-pathetic light as a somewhat sloppy, self-satisfied man. The graphic aftermath is gruesome, as a cantankerous, profane Brady stubbornly—but with a number of setbacks—tries to retrieve as many of his faculties as possible.

There is fine acting by Bridges, Joan Allen as his wife, Sarah, and Bryan Clark as Reagan. The ending shows newsreel footage of the real Brady lobbying in Congress for the recently passed gun-control bill named after him. But ultimately there is no real shape or resolution to the film. It’s simply a tragedy that is torturous to watch, even for video voyeurs.

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