The scandal and mysterious events surrounding the tragic drowning of a young woman, as Ted Kennedy drove his car off the infamous bridge, are revealed in the new movie starring Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy and Kate Mara as Mary Jo Kopechne. Not only did this event take the life of an aspiring political strategist and Kennedy insider, but it ultimately changed the course of presidential history forever. Through true accounts, documented in the inquest from the investigation in 1969, director John Curran and writers Andrew Logan and Taylor Allen, intimately expose the broad reach of political power, the influence of America's most celebrated family; and the vulnerability of Ted Kennedy, the youngest son, in the shadow of his family legacy.
The bridge where they were driving on was the Dike Bridge on the eastern part of the island, that connects the main part of Chappaquiddick with a strip of beach that runs north/south. While there are some homes along that eastern strip of beach on the north end, the party was not at one of them. The mystery of why they were driving on Dike Bridge has never been answered. See more »
Ted asks the operator to make a collect call and gives his name, but never gives a phone number. The operator patches the call without it somehow. See more »
IN BRIEF: An riveting factual retelling of a political scandal and cover-up that changed the life of one man and a nation.
JIM'S REVIEW: One man remained above the law. One nation watched in shock and disbelief as the event unfolded. One woman dead. Such is the scandal and cover-up of Senator Edward "Teddy" Kennedy and his ill-fated accident that changed his life and took the life of campaign worker, Mary Jo Kopechine. Chappaquiddick, John Curran's fine retelling of true events shows those days in 1969 when the young inebriated senator made that dire mistake, driving off a bridge and leaving a friend to slowly drown in a slightly submerged car. His decision lacked courage and integrity which cost him a political future to become America's once and future president. But our nation does love the rise and fall of the rich and famous...and their ultimate comeback.
Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan create a timeline that shows the unscrupulous damage control crafted by powerful men to protect their own, with little regard for the true victim. The script focuses on six days, from the fatal crash to the senator's televised plea to a country to forgive him his trespasses, ending in actual footage from real people who commented most positively on his "forced" confession. To the film's credit, it does not shy away from Kennedy's caddish behavior, the numerous illegal acts, and exposes the "spin" (which is ever prevalent today, while being a rarity back then). Their narrative could use more backstory to give more substance to the possible relationship of the politician and his victim. It only hints at that aspect and is a tad unjust to Ms. Kopechine's character by making her an incomplete pawn rather than a fully dimensional character. Kate Mara plays her very well and one wishes more screen time was spent in flashbacks about her character and motives.
However, the majority of the film is a showcase for Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy. It is an excellent performance of a troubled and desperate man at terms with his own weaknesses. Mr. Clarke is a forceful presence and fully captures the Massachusetts senator's persona. (It is deserving of an Oscar nomination, although it will surely be forgotten due to the film's early release.) Also giving excellent support are Ed Helms as his close ally and conscience, Joe Gargan, Clancy Brown as Robert MacNamara, Taylor Nichols as Ted Sorensen, and Bruce Dern as the cruel patriarch, Joseph Kennedy. (The scene between father and son is brutal to watch, and Mr. Dern conveys his disappointment and personal disgust with barely a word as Mr. Clarke searches for any ounce of compassion and tenderness.) Rounding out the strong ensemble are Jim Gaffigan and Olivia Thirlby.
Mr. Curran directs with a solid vision and effectively jumps back to the incident to remind his audience of the tragedy of a human life cut short countering with the political mechanisms of a political life saved at all cost. That Senator Kennedy went on to continue a healthy career and eluded any jail time, never being convicted of manslaughter seems an odd turn of events in this enthralling and disturbing drama. But truth is stranger than fiction and Chappaquiddick is an honest depiction of dishonest times. It is a movie definitely worth viewing.
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